Matthew Bourbon

  • Matthew Ronay, The Crack, the Swell, an Earth, an Ode (detail), 2022, basswood, dye, gouache, flocking, plastic, steel, cotton, epoxy, and hot mix asphalt, 3' 1 3/4“ × 23' 8” × 1' 1".
    picks November 21, 2022

    Matthew Ronay

    Matthew Ronay’s 2022 sculpture, The Crack, the Swell, an Earth, an Ode, is a polychromed puzzle of cut and textured wood. The roughly twenty-four-foot-long arrangement is segmented and cleverly linked together. One notices plenty of cheeky references to the human body, including breasts, lungs, googly eyes, tongues, splayed hands, and bean-like heads. Yet despite the simple gratification of recognizing these various appendages and organs, the most captivating moments are when Ronay’s vaguely coral-like objects only hint at more familiar things, such as gravity-weighted pillows, schools of swaying

  • Mathew Cerletty, Ottoman, 2020, oil on linen, 48 × 70".

    Mathew Cerletty

    Mathew Cerletty’s airless, photorealistic paintings of mundane consumer goods exude the seemingly anonymous nature of all possessions. Yet the things depicted in this exhibition—including a looped leather belt, a yellow rubber duckie, a clothes-drying rack, and a furry stuffed animal—become talismans of incarnate presence through the artist’s ruthless attention to detail, his almost preternatural skill, and their unnervingly front-and-center journalistic presentation.

    In Snow Shovel, 2019, Cerletty features the titular object standing upright on an icy bank. The tool’s rocket-red handle grip and

  • Maja Ruznic, Truth Seekers, 2019, oil on canvas, 70 × 60".

    Maja Ruznic

    Everything appears to be in a state of constant and inevitable change in the exquisite paintings of Maja Ruznic. A range of mark-making methodologies leaves the images wraithlike, insinuating echoes of ideas. Ruznic stains her works with Gamsol-saturated pigment such that nebulous pools of paint fade in and out, sometimes disappearing into the weave of the canvas. The look is reminiscent of a watercolor bloom. The artist does not, however, rely on this procedure; it is only a beginning. She then examines the results of her incidental color placements and nimbly pulls forms from the foggy washes.

  • Stephen Mueller, Meerabai, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 66 x 73".
    picks March 26, 2020

    Stephen Mueller

    “My paintings don’t depict anything. I'm trying to reach that kind of experience where you are on the edge. There and not there.” This declaration by Stephen Mueller, who died in 2011, offers a guide to this handsome gathering of works on canvas and paper. Most of the paintings utilize a vibrant amorphic background, upon which Mueller rendered circular mandalas suggestive of the Buddhist dharma wheel. Mueller gravitated toward “Eastern” painting formats, including Tibetan thang-ka painting, but these served largely as templates: By cleverly altering shapes and adjusting his palette, Mueller

  • Jonas Wood, Jungle Kitchen, 2017, oil and acrylic on canvas, 100 × 93".

    Jonas Wood

    Jonas Wood’s first major solo museum exhibition happened to coincide with a showing of seventy works by the Impressionist Berthe Morisot. On the surface, the two artists’ paintings are very different, but in fact their congruence is strong. Like Morisot, Wood depicts sentimental scenes of domestic life with family, friends, pets, and houseplants. Yet Wood’s banal, recognizable subjects are often made to feel extraordinary through a colorful profusion of visual information and ornamentation, and a palette associated with a certain Southern California light, also found in the upbeat paintings of

  • View of "Margarita Cabrera: It is Impossible to Cover the Sun with a Finger,” 2019.
    picks February 11, 2019

    Margarita Cabrera

    Political art can be didactic to a fault. Margarita Cabrera’s exhibition “It Is Impossible to Cover the Sun with a Finger” overtly expresses the artist’s indignation about societal ills but avoids the pitfalls and limitations of art made solely as agitprop. In her expanding series of soft army-green sculptures of desert plants, “Space in Between,” 2010–, Cabrera collaborates with immigrants who have crossed the US-Mexico border. Her volunteers embroider their stories—encapsulated in family names, home countries, dreams for the future, and flags of Mexico and the United States—onto repurposed

  • View of “The Nature of Arp,” 2018.
    picks November 08, 2018

    Jean Arp

    “I was born in nature,” stated Jean Arp, the master of sinuous form. In this declaration, he identified the natural world as something outside the compromises of human culture. For Arp, that which is natural contains only the essential, with form and function uniquely suited to each other. Adhering to this philosophical principle, the artist created objects that convey what feels like an inevitable sense of wholeness, while paradoxically comprised mostly of combined “fluid ovals.” This exhibition presents Arp’s fondness for minimalist, reductive forms through a selection of graphic collages,

  • Jay DeFeo, Untitled (Compass series), 1979, charcoal and chalk on paper, 14 x 11".
    picks April 25, 2018

    Jay DeFeo

    Jay DeFeo’s legacy is usually seen through the lens of her exalted sculptural painting The Rose, 1958–66; it looms over her other artistic efforts. Despite the intense focus that canvas deserves, this handsome gathering of DeFeo’s works on paper encourages a wider contemplation. These forty small drawings and photocopies depicting studio tools—chosen by Paul Galvez—have a journalistic directness that feels surprisingly enigmatic.

    DeFeo’s portrait-like renderings of tripods and compasses appear simple, yet the loosely drawn images have a latent anthropomorphism––spherical bumps become ankles,

  • Roni Horn, Untitled (“I deeply perceive that the infinity of matter is no dream.”), 2014, solid cast glass with as-cast surfaces, height: 50 3⁄4“ x 55” diameter.
    picks June 09, 2017

    Roni Horn

    Roni Horn’s glass sculptures, at first glance, could be dismissed as a collection of attractive and costly manufactured objects. A home-decor store might sell a smaller-scale, mass-produced version of them. Yet upon careful inspection, they provoke an astonishing range of experiences. Meticulously created from solid cast glass generally used for the sensitive lenses of telescopes, these chest-high cylinders are semitransparent light collectors. Each form is suffused with a singular pale color: one a soft blue, one pastel purple, another faint peach; two are made without color, though ambient

  • Carey Young, Palais de Justice, 2017, HD video, color, sound, 17 minutes 58 seconds.
    picks March 02, 2017

    Carey Young

    We are all painfully aware of the mechanisms, duplicities, and abuses of power omnipresent in our current political climate. Carey Young’s prescient exhibition “The New Architecture” focuses squarely on how human agency directs or is harmed by power. The title is meant to suggest a speculative model of authority, yet much of her intention is tied to actual architectural edifices. In the photographs gathered within the series “Body Techniques,” 2007, we see the artist in a business suit among expansionist construction in Dubai and Sharjah. One photo shows her prone in a concave pile of desert

  • Stanley Whitney, Kongo, 2014, oil on linen, 60 x 60''.
    picks February 12, 2017

    Stanley Whitney

    Joy is an uncommon aspiration in contemporary abstraction. The easy gratification found in art exclusively intent on formal pleasure leads many artists to pursue other approaches, such as irony or the suggestion of narrative. At a minimum, a countervailing formal dissonance is usually present—think of the peculiarities of a Charline von Heyl or a Raoul De Keyser. Stanley Whitney’s paintings, however, are unusual in their candor and plainness. They are bold declarations that name color as their principal subject. To his credit, Whitney evades the soppy trap inherent in such an ordinary commitment;

  • Rebecca Warren, Reclining Figure, 2011, steel and pompom, 18 1/2 x 43 1/4 x 13 3/4".
    picks May 30, 2016

    Rebecca Warren

    Satire, cleverness, and absurdity are at the core of Rebecca Warren’s art. Humorously undercutting platitudes from different sculptural genres, Warren both mocks and participates in the lineage of art-historical standards. In Reclining Figure, 2011, she toys with the monumental sculptures frequently installed in public spaces and outside corporate headquarters. Using steel, she miniaturizes an assembly of geometric forms that, at a colossal scale, would be a bombastic trope of public-art installations. Warren emasculates the sculpture further by including a pom-pom as a kind of ridiculous