Noemi Smolik

  • “Open Mind (Closed Circuits)”

    For the exhibition “Open Mind (Closed Circuits),” curator Jan Hoet chose as his point of departure a pair of extremes, opposite poles: the “healthy” classical ideal of art, as represented by the academy, and the art of the mentally ill. During the Enlightenment, the period when the academies were established, artistic expression and mental imbalance were regarded as mutually incompatible. In the radiant light of reason, all emotion, individuality, and peculiarity were put down as inadequate, hence inadmissible. The academy demanded an artistic ideal that aimed at regularity, lawfulness, and

  • Vadim Zakharov

    Upon seeing these works by the Russian artist Vadim Zakharov, the viewer’s initial response may be bewilderment. What do they mean, these six adjacently hung paintings (all works, 1989), which are rendered in a near-uniform gray, with a single vertical line in the left half of each canvas? Why are those tiny wads of scrunched-up paper squeezed in between the individual pieces near the top? And why is the wad missing between the last two pictures? This series of paintings has a cold, almost sterile quality, yet it arouses our curiosity. We would like to know more about these works, about their

  • Nam June Paik

    Since Nam June Paik is generally regarded as the father of video art, most observers misread his work as deriving from a fascination with TV and technology, with the flickering, glimmering image on the tube, and with the ubiquity of the camera. Yet Paik’s fascination goes hand in hand with a deep skepticism towards technology and the mass media—something few people realize, even though Paik himself has spoken about the way his objects ridicule technology. Several of his pieces allow two traditions, two completely opposite philosophies of life, to collide with each other: the Western tradition,

  • Leiko Ikemura

    Leiko Ikemura, who was born in Japan and now resides in Cologne, is a wanderer between two worlds. Although aspects of her work, such as filling the entire pictorial surface, follow the European tradition, several elements, such as the shaping of the space, the flat application of pigments, and the treatment of lines, instantly point to a Japanese background. This bicultural fusion is evident in all her recent work. Inspired by an altar by Albrecht Altdorfer, the German master of the late Middle Ages, Ikemura has produced a number of paintings concerned with the Passion of Christ, translating

  • Wainer Vaccari

    “I will repopulate this world, my friend: There shall be men, women, and animals, slightly insane creatures. I will hurl them into our bleak valleys, and they will always show us the hidden paths and places, the most drunken, most vice-ridden cities: no saints!” This promise is made to us by Wainer Vaccari, and indeed his paintings are a multivoiced choir of bodies, lusts, obsessions, intoxication, folly, madness, and desire, all crooning a sharp, earsplitting mockery of our modern faith in the autonomy of the individual. From above and below, from water and earth, from animal and instinct,

  • Thomas Bernstein

    According to Jörg Johnen, who wrote a pamphlet that accompanies this show, Thomas Bernstein’s sculptures appeal to us because of the humor and subtlety with which the forms, colors, and materials of such objects as tulip planters, punch bowl ladles, and toilet-brush holders become erotic, friendly, or ominous images signifying gestures and relationships. Johnen accurately sums up the sculptural essence of Bernstein’s work, which reveals itself to the viewer only little by little. No doubt these sculptures exert a direct appeal, indeed attraction, that almost instantly makes these bizarre works

  • Attila Richard Lukacs

    The unusual and provocative works of the Canadian painter Attila Richard Lukacs show an unsettling world of half-naked men with shaved heads, their appearance possibly identifying them as members of the European and American urban youth movement broadly referred to as “punk.” Lukacs depicts these figures as small, diabolical, self-styled gods, whose rituals of pain, violence, and eroticism lie outside the moral categories of good and evil.

    The artist first showed these paintings last spring in West Berlin, where he currently lives. In the new works he adds to his human figures, as an equal partner,

  • Klaus vom Bruch

    In Klaus vom Bruch’s latest installation, Radarraum (Radar room, 1988), three black boxes of various heights—each with crisscross fencing on two sides—are distributed through the room. Their upward-facing TV monitors flicker and glimmer in green, yellow, orange, and red, flashing an array of letters and numbers and emitting squeaky sounds. In the middle of the room, a 7-foot-wide rectangular radar screen, installed at eye-level, turns on its axis. A steel scaffolding, extending from the ceiling and containing an engine, keeps the radar screen turning.

    Upon entering the room, the visitor intuitively

  • Ian Hamilton Finlay

    The classically elegant rooms of this gallery, formerly a moated castle, offered an ideal background for this installation of recent work by Ian Hamilton Finlay. In Osso, 1987, three huge white marble blocks lying on the floor appeared to have been violently wrested from their quarry, and only partially treated—one block bears an SS symbol. (When this piece was displayed in France, it triggered such indignation that the French minister of culture was forced to cancel a contract with Finlay for a monument commemorating the bicentennial of the French Revolution.) But Finlay’s goal in this piece

  • Rune Mields

    Rune Mields creates work in a formidable, quirky array of styles—large black paintings containing signs taken from ancient geometry; paintings on which male nudes are drawn on a paleolithic fertility symbol, accompanied by quotations from the Song of Songs; paintings filled with numbers through which a medieval warrior can be seen; grid paintings that reveal the sieve of Eratosthenes, an ancient method of discovering prime numbers that still serves as a foundation for modern computer programs; paintings with notes and diagrams, or Arabic and Persian ornaments; everything in black, gray, and