Noemi Smolik

  • View of “Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster,” 2022. Photo: Andrea Rossetti.

    Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

    This unusual exhibition posed an inconvenient challenge to the mounting skepticism toward pictorial representation in contemporary art. How can one narrate in pictures without replicating models of male heroism cultural history that brought such revolutionary changes as the transformation of women’s role in society? French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster grappled with this question, selecting what might seem an obsolete format—the panoramic painting, a legacy of the nineteenth century. Simply by choosing this all-encompassing form that was formerly employed to visualize historic events, the

  • View of “Anna Hulačová,” 2022. Photo: Michal Czanderle.

    Anna Hulačová

    Although Anna Hulačová’s art has always been informed by folklore and myth, it grapples with very contemporary questions. As one spends time with her work, its self-contradictory aspect fades, and it begins to speak of a present-day menace and, even more forcefully, a dystopian future.

    Jedlý, Krásný, Nezkrotný” (Edible, Beautiful, Untamed), the artist’s recent presentation of six untitled sculptures, all 2022, was a good example of how this happens. Entering the gallery, the visitor could only be baffled: What to make of these enormous, brash, lumbering, vaguely archaic forms? There was something

  • View of “Kinetismus: 100 Years of Electricity in Art.”
    picks May 30, 2022

    “Kinetismus: 100 Years of Electricity in Art”

    The Kunsthalle Praha is not, strictly speaking, a kunsthalle. It is privately owned and operated by the Pudil Family Foundation, which has permanently loaned its collection to it. But the choice of name is deliberate, combining the German term kunsthalle and Prague’s Czech name to signal the founders’ ambition to revive the city’s status as a crossroads of diverse European cultures and languages.

    As the Kunsthalle Praha is located in a former power substation, it was only natural to inaugurate the venue with an exhibition on electricity and art. Curators Peter Weibel, Christelle Havranek, and

  • Hiroka Yamashita, Moonrise (Route 2), 2021, Oil on linen, 63 ¾ × 44⅛ "
    picks April 16, 2022

    Hiroka Yamashita

    These are landscapes that beguile with more than just the visuals. You sense the wind or the weight of the fog. You feel the coldness of the falling snow on your skin or the warmth of the fire. The works of Hiroka Yamashita seek to capture what, strictly speaking, eludes the eye: the impermanence and inconstancy of nature and the myriad nuances of humankind’s attachment to it. The title of this exhibition, “Fūdo,” is a Japanese word that means “wind” or “earth” and can refer to the climate but also applies to cultural traditions, including medieval royal legal codes. More pointedly, it is a

  • James White, The Large Glass 8, 2021, oil and varnish on acrylic-faced honeycomb panel in acrylic box frame, 66 1⁄8 × 79 7⁄8 × 2".

    James White

    Glasses, half filled with water, empty, or broken, sitting on smooth reflective surfaces; light fixtures; faucets polished to a shine—these are some of the motifs in London-based artist James White’s black-and-white paintings. Prompting associations with the pictures of seventeenth-century Dutch masters such as Johannes Vermeer or Pieter de Hooch—which feature similarly crisp reflections of lights and crystal-clear mirroring of images—White’s work aligns itself with the large body of pictures in the history of art that are about seeing itself. Art historian Svetlana Alpers spotlighted this

  • Cao Fei, Asia One, 2018, HD video, color, sound, 63 minutes 21 seconds. From “Post-Capital: Art and the Economics of the Digital Age.”

    “Post-Capital: Art and the Economics of the Digital Age”

    Art and economics—the relation between them is not exactly a novel concern. But where artists of the 1970s sought strategies to undercut the co-optation of their work by the market, their present-day counterparts know they have a harder time steering clear of economic forces. Not only has digital technology abetted the shift of production from material goods to immaterial ones such as information—paving the way for the ascent of Google and Facebook, two of the world’s biggest corporations by market capitalization—but as Luc Boltanski and Ève Chiapello showed in The New Spirit of Capitalism (

  • Yann Gerstberger, Piano Bar (Fitzcarralda), 2021, tapestry, 106 3⁄8 × 88 1⁄2". Installation view.

    Yann Gerstberger

    The first impression was overwhelming: all those colors and shapes! French-born artist Yann Gerstberger, who now lives in Mexico City, covered all the interior walls at the gallery with colorful chalk murals. The first wall on the right, for example, was taken up by rectangles in light blue, orange, and gray—a distant echo, perhaps, of the rigorously geometric painting of European modernism. But then scrawled circles supervened: possibly allusions to the sun, or simply doodles, graffiti like that we see every day on the street. Positions that not so long ago might have seemed far apart—historicist

  • View of “Mary Audrey Ramirez: They Miss Being Aware of Time,” 2021.
    picks September 29, 2021

    Mary-Audrey Ramirez

    Mary-Audrey Ramirez’s objects are enlivened by a tension that can be observed more and more often in contemporary art: the incongruity between subjects sourced from the technologically mediated worlds of the internet and movies and their representation in artisanal techniques like bricolage, molding, or sewing. The Luxembourg-born artist’s installation of hand-stitched fabric sculptures in Prague, for example, borrows its motifs from the 1998 feature film adaptation of the cult sci-fi series The X-Files, specifically the moment when the two heroes discover a subterranean nest of mutant bees that

  • Anna Boghiguian, Promenade dans l’inconscient (A Walk in the Unconscious), 2016, wax, pigment, graphite pencil, wood, denim, metal. Installation view. Photo: Dirk Pauwels.

    Anna Boghiguian

    Anna Boghiguian tells stories. The daughter of a Cairene Armenian family, the artist—who celebrates her seventy-fifth birthday this year—has led an itinerant life: traveling between Europe, Asia, and Africa, between the countries of the erstwhile colonial rulers and those of their slaves, as well as between antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the present. Even when her stories stretch into ancient times, they are always about the present. Consider the installation she created for her current exhibition, “A Short Long History” (curated by Ann Hoste) which is made up of works that trace the global

  • View of “Russian Avant-Garde at the Museum Ludwig: Original and Fake,” 2020–21. Two works attributed as Alexandra Exter’s Kostümentwurf “Herodes,” 1921 and 1917 respectively.
    slant December 30, 2020

    Impostor Syndome

    WHAT HAPPENS when a painting is unmasked as a forgery? The colors, the forms, and the brushwork remain the same, and yet, everything has changed. The spell of authenticity, related to what Walter Benjamin called an artwork’s “aura,” has broken. A taboo-shattering exhibition organized by Rita Kersting and Petra Mand at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, titled “Russian Avant-Garde at the Museum Ludwig: Original and Fake” and on through February 7, seeks to pick up the pieces, provocatively pairing its works of questionable provenance alongside authentic loans in order to contextualize the challenges

  • Berenice Olmedo, CsO, 2020, polyurethane, plaster protectors, fiberglass bandages, 45 1/4 × 4 3/4 × 3 1/2".

    Berenice Olmedo

    Can there be a human body without organs? That is the question Mexico City–based artist Berenice Olmedo pointedly raises with her installations and objects. Laid out across the floor in her recent exhibition “CsO, haecceidad” were pneumatic splints made of translucent plastic—orthopedic devices used in poor countries such as Mexico or India to immobilize broken legs or arms. Commonplace medical devices, they nonetheless have something organic, even human, about them. Here, weighed down by bags filled with sand, they were connected by tubes to a machine that slowly inflated and deflated them.

  • Henrik Olesen, intestine, black, red, horizontal, 2020, oil and mixed media on canvas, 15 3/4 × 19 3/4".

    Henrik Olesen

    What a surprise! Born in Denmark and long based in Berlin, Henrik Olesen is well known as a Conceptual artist whose objects, installations, and collages, which often focus on marginalized groups, interrogate the ways in which dominant power structures and social norms shape human identity, language, and the body. This show, however, did not feature collages or installations made up of photos, handwritten notes, pages torn from books, and newspaper clippings, but predominantly comprised paintings in oil and other materials on wood or canvas. Nevertheless, the starting point for Olesen’s new works