Michael Wilson

  • Paul Gabrielli

    For the major part of Paul Gabrielli’s sophomore solo exhibition, “Generally,” half a dozen everyday institutional features—a railing, a fire alarm, a soap dispenser, etc.—installed around the gallery’s front room at points appropriate to the functions they reference, were afflicted with awkward protrusions. Each artifact hosted a parasite that glommed onto its surface, evoking a tumor or a tick before any form of assemblage blessed with an art-historical pedigree. Here Gabrielli blended the found, the manipulated, and the constructed to loosen the hold of use value over even the most

  • diary April 11, 2011

    Sound Mind and Body

    “IF YOU’RE FROM NEW YORK, you’ll know this one.” As the image of an eye patch–sporting Kurt Russell flashed across twin screens behind the stage at West Village destination Le Poisson Rouge, the speaker struck up a portentous synth line and the audience burst into nostalgic applause. But the portly, middle-aged guy behind the keyboard wasn’t just playing to the crowd; the tense theme from 1981 cult actioner Escape from New York is one of his own compositions. Alan Howarth, performing here last Friday evening under the banner of the Unsound Festival New York, is something of an icon to fans of

  • picks April 08, 2011

    Andrew Kuo

    There’s a fascinating back and forth between the serious and the light-hearted in Andrew Kuo’s practice that can easily mislead viewers to a hastily conceived notion thereof (I’ll admit to having been one such person prior to this show, which is confrontationally titled “My List of Demands”). So while it doesn’t take long to grasp Kuo’s basic strategy—he repurposes geometric abstraction as a graphical information system by which to plot the ins and outs of his day-to-day existence and the fluctuations of his psyche—it can take a little longer to understand it as more than just a snarky gimmick.

  • picks April 04, 2011

    “3,348 Hours of Sunshine”

    “We’ll call it your safe place. Can you see it now?” The city inhabited by the eight artists in this show is far from the tranquil refuge suggested by a therapist in Dan Finsel’s video Shameless Secrets from My Past, 2009. Los Angeles in 2011 is many things to many people, but “safe” rarely tops the list. In fact, on the evidence of this selection in general and this work in particular, it’s as edgy as ever. So while Finsel takes a performative tack in exploring his own emotional makeup and leaves us with an impression of profound existential confusion, Alex Klein applies a more outwardly

  • film April 04, 2011

    Catching a Wave

    “YOU WOULDN’T EAT, you’d buy a guitar or a Super 8 camera.” Musician Pat Place’s recollection of the urgency that drove New York’s underground auteurs in the late 1970s and early ’80s encapsulates both the scenesters’ fiercely do-it-yourself ethic and their— perhaps inevitable—tendency to self-mythologize. Blank City, director Céline Danhier’s document of the rough-and-ready style of filmmaking that emerged in conjunction with punk rock and ultimately ballooned into big-budget indie cinema, gives Place and friends plenty of time to indulge this long-nurtured romanticism. But it also packs in so

  • Jeppe Hein

    Jeppe Hein’s second show at 303 Gallery—his last show here was “Please . . .” in 2008—started before visitors even entered the space. Piercing the broad storefront’s frosted glass window was Upside Down, 2011, a telescope-like arrangement of lenses through which an unexpectedly shrunken and inverted view of the interior was visible. Hein’s primary concern—shared with Olafur Eliasson and Carsten Höller among others—is the interplay of presumption and perception, with what we expect to see and what finally manifests. In Upside Down, as in the other works of which it here provided

  • diary March 31, 2011

    After School Special

    THE BRUCE HIGH QUALITY FOUNDATION is nothing if not ambitious: Tuesday evening in Manhattan saw the arch collective convene at Cooper Union to launch their Teach 4 Amerika tour, a “five-week, 11-city, coast-to-coast road trip that crosses state lines and institutional boundaries to inspire and enable local art students to define the future of their own educational experience.” Parking their stretch limo—painted yellow to resemble a school bus—outside Cooper’s entrance, the BHQF had already littered the Great Hall with balloons, and one masked member was firing pennants and tie-dyed T-shirts into

  • picks March 20, 2011

    Nancy de Holl and Esther Kläs

    Any artist showing at Bureau, perhaps Manhattan’s tiniest exhibition space, must be acutely conscious of how his or her work relates to its immediate surroundings. Fortunately, dealer Gabrielle Giattino understands this need thoroughly, and selects her collaborators accordingly. Nancy de Holl and Esther Kläs share an interest not only in their work’s internal dynamics but also in its references to and interactions with a range of settings and contexts. Kläs’s construction Hi!, 2010, for example, plays with the conventions of framing and mounting, deliberately confusing presentational mechanism

  • picks March 08, 2011

    Paul Ramirez Jonas

    New York isn’t nearly so crowded with commemorative statuary as many older, European cities, but the grammar of the sculptural tribute is familiar and resonant here nonetheless. In The Commons, 2011, the centerpiece of his current show, Paul Ramirez Jonas has taken a landmark statue from the Campidoglio in Rome as his model. Ridding the original’s military horse of its imperial rider, Marcus Aurelius, the artist has remade the antique bronze in cork. This isn’t the first time that the California-born, Honduras-raised Jonas has employed the distinctive material; for 2009’s Mercosul Biennial in

  • picks March 08, 2011

    Judith Linhares

    In Judith Linhares’s painting Picnic Rock, 2008, two naked woman loll on a blanket en plein air, enjoying a feast of chicken and layer cake. Nearby is a simple log cabin, and in the background a snow-capped mountain. It’s an idyllic scene, but watching the pair from a tree is a third female nude, her skin tinted purple by shadow. Is she a benign or malevolent figure? What is her relationship to the diners? Are they even aware of being observed? The artist leaves the answers up to us. The ambiguity of Picnic Rock is typical of Linhares, whose application, while bold and bright, nonetheless allows

  • Tedd Nash Pomaski

    In “At the Foot of the Lighthouse,” Tedd Nash Pomaski presents new drawings in which images, while generally recognizable, struggle against their facture. Picturing nocturnal highways and roads, hospital examination rooms, and ocean waves, Pomaski filters his careful draftsmanship though an array of mediating strategies, some preliminary, others visible on the surface of the work. The cumulative effect is of a veil or glare that slows but never entirely cancels out the processes of looking and comprehension. Areas of darkness—of which there are many—surrender their depth as in an

  • Butt Johnson

    In choosing The Name of the Rose as the title of his 1980 best-selling medieval thriller, Italian author and semiotician Umberto Eco confronted readers with an image charged with so many symbolic readings as to have been effectively hollowed out, set adrift on a sea of equivalent possibilities. And with the book’s last line, Stat rosa pristina nomine, nomina nuda tenemus, which translates as “Yesterday’s rose endures in its name, we hold empty names,” he suggests that from the beauty of the past, now vanished, only a linguistic trace remains. The emphasis on the free play of sign and signifier

  • picks February 24, 2011

    Geoffrey Farmer

    In his suggestively titled US debut, “Bacon’s Not the Only Thing That Is Cured by Hanging from a String,” Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer plays the damaged and delicate against the faux architectural, employing a collage logic that, while stylish, happily never settles into a comfortable groove. Known for a mercurial refusal of fixity and completion—many of his works are designed to change over the course of their public lives—Farmer produces objects and installations that rope found images and forms into a dance of shifting reference and formal tension. In this exhibition, the Vancouver-based

  • Rebecca Morris

    “Abstraction never left, motherfuckers.” Los Angeles painter Rebecca Morris adopts a confrontational tone in her 2006 text Manifesto (For Abstractionists and Friends of the Non-Objective), but viewers less intimately invested in the rise and fall and rise of her chosen mode may wonder at the necessity of such combative sloganeering. It may be true that when Morris graduated from art school back in the mid-1990s, other practices were in the spotlight, but is there still a need to bolster work of this kind with a pose of such clubbish toughness? Perhaps I’m taking her apparent indignation the

  • diary January 01, 2011

    Palm Reading

    THE SHORT DRIVE from the Norton Museum of Art to the opulent Breakers hotel takes the visitor past some notable landmarks, including the picturesque Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. Built in 1925 in Spanish Gothic style, the building was also the venue for Donald Trump’s characteristically extravagant January 2005 wedding to Melania Knauss. As we made our way down South County Road, Graham Russell, the Norton’s associate director of development, recalled flocks of souvenir hunters descending the moment the ceremony was over, stripping the place of flowers in a matter of minutes. And as a

  • Daniel Bauer

    The subject matter of Daniel Bauer’s “Νεφελοκοκκυγία” (Cloudcuckooland)—the inevitable erosion of utopian modernism’s high ideals by the vagaries of everyday life—is overfamiliar to the point of nostalgia. Wasn’t this the theme du jour a decade ago? Or has it achieved a kind of evergreen status, become a standard tune to break into when all else fails? Bauer’s exhibition—his second at this gallery—was altogether too polite to make even this question feel urgent. But subject matter, after all, isn’t everything, and the nine photographs and single video featured are sufficiently

  • Chris Caccamise

    GEOMETRIC ABSTRACTION WILL SAVE AMERICA, reads the eponymous text of one of Chris Caccamise’s 2010 constructions, fourteen of which were on display in the artist’s fifth New York solo exhibition. A bold claim indeed. But while Uncle Sam’s travails may have led some to trumpet yet again the death of irony, such reports are, as ever, greatly exaggerated. Neither an abstract revival nor Caccamise’s works themselves—in spite of their abundant charm—seems likely to make much impression on the country at large. Caccamise’s show has the visual appeal of a well-designed toy and the verbal

  • Laurent Grasso

    With their 1991 novel The Difference Engine, which imagines the social repercussions on Victorian Britain had Charles Babbage successfully invented the mechanical computer in the 1820s, William Gibson and Bruce Sterling created the definitive novel of the now-popular sci-fi subgenre known as steam-punk. Driven by nostalgia for a vision of a future that never came to pass, and by an attendant obsession with obscure and obsolete technology, steampunk has since become a widespread trope in literature, music, and popular culture at large. Laurent Grasso’s work—though not a pure representation of

  • Eric Fertman

    Suggesting a joint venture between Philip Guston and R. Crumb (or, to choose a name less feted in the art world, MAD magazine’s Don Martin), Eric Fertman’s clubfooted sculptures combine craft with comedy in a style that, while aesthetically endearing, so far lacks the bite of his influences. Wielding slender brass and steel rods, Fertman joins together smoothly rounded bulbs of stained wood into anthropomorphic abstractions that, in his second show at Susan Inglett Gallery, filled a compact room to bursting. On display were also a number of other works—some sculptural, others graphic—that in

  • Daniel von Sturmer

    On the smooth, gridded surface of a black plastic cutting mat, a tiny drama unfolds. A slender prod, coated in some kind of putty and manipulated by an unseen hand, shoves a little gray ball into the center of the frame. This accomplished, the tool moves offscreen, only to return with a slightly larger ball coated in bright orange fuzz. With no small amount of effort, and after several unsuccessful attempts, it eventually contrives to stack one sphere atop the other. And for a final trick, it places the now conjoined forms atop a diminutive octagonal column. Three further endeavors follow a