Mike Watson

  • View of “Love Song Sing Along (Once Again With Feeling!),” 2020.
    picks August 21, 2020

    Kris Lemsalu Malone and Kyp Malone Lemsalu

    The centerpiece of “Love Song Sing Along (Once Again With Feeling!)” is a large, swan-shaped paddleboat occupied by life-size ceramic sculptures of a bipedal jaguar and rabbit. The creatures—which sit wide-eyed, tongues hanging—represent the married artists, Kris Lemsalu Malone and Kyp Malone Lemsalu. The diorama shares the main room of the Kai Art Center with Malone Lemsalu’s “Love Song Sing-Along series,” 2019–20, featuring fourteen gouache and watercolor prints depicting Kris and Kyp’s animal avatars enacting an archetypal creation myth. Kyp describes the series as “a non-story of a story”

  • Anni Puolakka, Diamond Belly, 2018, video still.
    picks August 13, 2020

    Anni Puolakka

    Finnish artist Anni Puolakka’s video Diamond Belly, 2018, opens on a comfortably disheveled bedroom. A tuxedo cat nestled among rumpled white sheets is soon joined by the artist, dressed in an orange jumpsuit. They kneel on the unmade bed and begin to paint a wall mural, partly abstract and partly a depiction of a mosquito’s wings. The camera abruptly cuts to the artist again, now wearing holographic lizard-eye sunglasses. Puolakka converses with an AI bot, the coauthor of the film’s short script, who leads the dialogue through a series of questions, instructions, and koan-like statements as

  • picks April 10, 2020

    “Is this a painting? A Virtual Reality Group Show"

    In light of the coronavirus lockdown, art institutions around the world have augmented their existing online presence to reach out to an isolated public. In Rome, the Nomas Foundation’s online exhibition “Is This a Painting? A Virtual Reality Group Show” consists of a computer-generated 3-D gallery space, produced using the digital platform Kunstmatrix. The show features thirty-two works from the nonprofit’s collection, chosen by its cofounder and curator Raffaella Frascarelli with the intention of reassessing the oldest of artistic media at a time when the virtual dominates visual culture.

    Pieces

  • Edith Karlson, Short Story, 2019, mixed media, dimensions variable. From “When You Say We Belong to the Light We Belong to the Thunder.”

    “When You Say We Belong to the Light We Belong to the Thunder”

    The group exhibition “When You Say We Belong to the Light We Belong to the Thunder” aimed to interrogate the sense of anxiety that currently pervades social and political life, with particular reference to the contradictions inherent in the rise of nationalism at a time when a global response to the challenge of climate change is much needed yet remains elusive.

    The exhibition opened with a loop of the video of Pat Benatar’s 1984 pop song “We Belong,” from which the show took its title. As the curatorial statement explains, the song’s success in the West coincided with Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy

  • Ragnar Kjartansson, The Visitors, 2012, nine-channel HD video projection, color, sound, 64 minutes.
    picks December 13, 2019

    Ragnar Kjartansson

    A lot has been written on Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors, 2012, an hourlong nine-channel installation featuring nine musician friends playing in separate rooms of the Rokeby, a nineteenth-century Hudson Valley estate about a hundred miles north of New York City. The individual videos were recorded separately but simultaneously as intimate portraits before then being played together as a multi-channel installation, which has been shown in museums globally since its making. The display of The Visitors on the fifth floor of the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art comes shortly after The Guardian

  • Bita Razavi, Screenshot From Far Cry 5, 2019, digital print on fine art paper in gilded frame, 23 5/8 x 15 3/4''.
    picks August 15, 2019

    Bita Razavi

    Bita Razavi’s latest solo show marks a departure from the artist’s consideration of political mechanisms and social behavior, focusing instead on the solitary space of video gaming and the sensation of melancholy evoked by the distance between the insular gamer and nature. This sense of alienation is explored via the graphics of video games such as Far Cry 5 (2018), The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011), The Hunter: Call of The Wild (2017), The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (2014), and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015). Gilt-framed screenshots capture the similarity between the game designers’ intentions

  • Olli Lyytikäinen, Untitled, 1970, mixed media on paper, 10 5⁄8 × 7 7⁄8".

    Olli Lyytikäinen

    Olli Lyytikäinen (1949–1987) was a pioneer of late modern painting in Finland. He was self-taught, but came to figure on the international scene during his brief lifetime, showing in the 1982 exhibition “Sleeping Beauty—Art Now: Scandinavia Today” at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Forty-Second Venice Biennale in 1986, where he represented his native country. In this recent celebration of the artist’s life and work, Galerie Forsblom presented a selection of drawings and paintings on paper and canvas representative of Lyytikäinen’s eclectic style, which drew influences from the

  • Grayson Perry, Battle of Britain, 2017, tapestry, 10 × 23’.

    Grayson Perry

    Grayson Perry’s exhibition “Folk Wisdom” focused on themes as diverse as class, sex, religion, gender, and the current political climate in forty-nine works spanning nearly two decades. The British artist’s treatment of these themes by way of traditional craft media such as ceramics, tapestry, and cast iron conveyed universal concerns, always tied to the homey common sense referred to in the show’s title.

    Spread across four rooms, the exhibition was dominated by eleven large tapestries adorning the walls of the principal space. Battle of Britain, 2017, measuring ten by twenty-three feet, evoked

  • Steve Roggenbuck, Poetry Everywhere! A Collection of Internet-Based Verse, 2017, color video with sound, 30 minutes 32 seconds.
    picks August 10, 2017

    “From Concrete to Liquid to Spoken Worlds to the Word”

    “From Concrete to Liquid to Spoken Worlds to the Word” incorporates four solo exhibitions, by Henri Chopin, D. A. Levy, Dom Sylvester Houédard, and Karl Holmqvist, as well as screenings and performances, all of which explore the formal aspects of words.

    Holmqvist’s work features large-scale sculptures and a stage that serves as a site for concrete-poetry performances, which will run until the project’s close. Levy’s typewritten concrete poetry (or “typestracts”) is on view here, occupying the same room as hand-printed journals by Houédard, a Benedictine priest.

    The center’s third floor hosts more

  • Anna Uddenberg, Savage #9 (bea ride), 2017, aqua-resin, fiberglass, suitcase, puffy jacket, synthetic hair, acrylic nails, cozy socks, mesh, vinyl, rubber string, flip flops, 42 1/2 × 41 3/8 × 29 1/2". From “Homo Mundus Minor.” Photo: Roberto Apa.

    “Homo Mundus Minor”

    In the twenty-first century, identity has become more malleable than ever before, and no version of selfhood goes untested or unquestioned. This shift provided the fundamental premise for the group show “Homo Mundus Minor,” organized by Rome’s T293. The exhibit included the gallery’s own Simon Denny alongside Lucas Blalock, Maggie Lee, Woody Othello, Hannah Perry, Lui Shtini, and Anna Uddenberg. On display were sculptural, two-dimensional, and video works that explored the titular phrase, which expresses the idea that each person contains a micro-version of the world’s essential complexities,

  • View of “Walid Raad: Yet Another Letter to the Reader,” 2017.
    picks March 16, 2017

    Walid Raad

    More than thirty wooden transport crates form a kind of interlocking tapestry of paintings for Lebanese artist Walid Raad’s solo show. Building on an existing body of work that explores both the corruption at the heart of Lebanon’s system of cultural heritage and the Western-centric nature of the global art scene, this exhibition aims the spotlight on forgotten Middle Eastern painters. A space with a low arched, wooden ceiling appears to have been turned into an eclectic painter’s studio, with each crate featuring a reproduction of a work by an artist from the region. The pieces were painted in

  • Ditte Gantriis, Sexual Feeling, 2016, iron, copper, hydrochloric acid, handmade candles, handblown glass, 11' 9 3/4“ ×  6' 6 3/4”.

    Ditte Gantriis

    Ditte Gantriis’s second solo show at Frutta marked an aesthetic departure from the work the Danish artist showed at the gallery just two years ago. That earlier offering—titled “Body and Soul”—featured oversize woven baskets alongside brightly colored monochromes, evoking a sensation of voluptuousness and abundance. In contrast, the latest show, at the gallery’s recently relocated space in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood, brought together works made of materials including wrought iron, glass, and candles to conjure an altogether darker feeling. This transition is a tribute to the artist’s