Mike Watson

  • 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.


  • “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

  • 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

  • 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

    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

    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

  • 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

  • “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,

  • 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

    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

  • picks January 27, 2017

    Gian Maria Tosatti

    The ambition and scope of Gian Maria Tosatti’s “Sette Stagioni dello Spirito” (Seven Seasons of the Spirit), 2013–16, have been translated to the institutional spaces of this museum. The series, made up of seven large-scale works arranged across abandoned buildings in Naples, draws its concept from the 1577 book Il Castello Interiore (The Interior Castle), by the mystic Teresa of Avila, in which the human spirit is divided into seven rooms. Tosatti has translated those chambers into seven site-specific monumental installations that perceive the city, and its empty edifices, as facsimiles of the