Nord Wennerstrom

  • Janet Biggs

    During a potently intimate moment in the video Fade to White, 2010, a singer (New York–based performance artist John Kelly) is shown attaining a state of grace—ecstasy worthy of Saint Theresa. Slowly closing and opening his eyes, Kelly extends outstretched hands, his plaintive countertenor arcing around the notes of the late Renaissance composer Giulio Caccini’s haunting madrigal “Amarilli, mia bella.” In a parallel narrative, arctic explorer Audun Tholfsen was filmed reaching a similar height, though less perceptibly, while sailing and kayaking frigid waters and hiking the icy Svalbard archipelago,

  • Robert Bergman

    Bergman’s subjects are strangers (“I know most of them for minutes”), and they fall within a broad spectrum of race, age, ethnicity, and economic class. The photographer has a fascination with the expressiveness of skin texture and tonality, as well as with bone structure (rarely have clavicles seemed so intriguing). He also favors the distinct and unusual physiognomy reminiscent of some of Diane Arbus’s subjects, though Bergman eschews Arbus’s air of fetishized freakishness, dwelling instead on the contours of the face in order to reveal the physical expression of emotion. In most of Bergman’s

  • Erik Thor Sandberg

    Erik Thor Sandberg’s six richly sculptural, masterfully executed figurative paintings in “Cyclical Nature” feature compositions both witty and, with their flagrant nudity, engagingly confrontational. More psychologically probing and viscerally introspective than the works in his 2006 show, “Contrary”—in which nearly nude figures represented vanity, vice, and virtue—these paintings are among his strongest to date, and possess a painterly finish on par with the work of Lisa Yuskavage and John Currin.

    Sandberg has made, and continues to make, drawings and small-scale paintings depicting individuals

  • Nicholas and Sheila Pye

    The influence of Bertolt Brecht, the Brothers Grimm, and Eugène Ionesco permeates the substance and style of Nicholas and Sheila Pye’s recent video Loudly, Death Unties, 2007, presented at Curator’s Office with five of the artists’ photographs. The work completes a deeply absorbing, richly symbolic trilogy, including the films The Paper Wall, 2004, and A Life of Errors, 2006, which chronicles a trio of destructive relationships between men and women.

    Common to the three works are dreary tenement-like sets—with bare wooden floors, peeling floral wallpaper, chipped paint, and scant furniture—which

  • Ivan Navarro and Courtney Smith

    Sculptors Ivan Navarro (who also works in video) and Courtney Smith reconfigure common items—lightbulbs, usually fluorescent, in Navarro’s case and vintage furniture in Smith’s—to yield subtly totemic, mildly anarchistic structures that gingerly probe the border between useful and useless, order and disorder. Their joint exhibition “Remake” furthered their inquisitions, playing with the cultural values we assign to objects and historical events and examining the consequences of reuse.

    Smith’s manipulated vintage dressers, bureaus, and cabinets recall the works of Doris Salcedo as well as, in

  • Jiha Moon

    Jiha Moon’s lyrical ink-and-acrylic paintings are, at their best, remarkable balancing acts that choreograph a maelstrom of lines and shapes to conjure imagery that is both familiar and alien, abject and beautiful. Superficially, the Korean-born artist’s work usually recalls classical Asian landscapes, and she reveals that the current series, “Line Tripping,” which is saturated in rich blues and greens, was inspired by Chinese painting of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907). Moon’s landscapes, however, are purely notational and have a transitory feeling that reflects the artist’s own experience of

  • Ian Whitmore

    Ian Whitmore paints skillful pastiches of decadent, rococo confections, sprinkling them with gestural abstraction and hints of Koonsian kitsch. His cauldron of references contains essences of, among others, Cecily Brown, Karen Kilimnik, Richard Prince, and Sue Williams, but though Whitmore exploits recognizable images and styles, he also claims to embrace a degree of ambiguity not always associated with the practice, and to want viewers to question both what they see and the sincerity of the artist. Until now, his efforts have been both clever and visually frothy, but have seemed headed toward

  • Julian Faulhaber

    The pristine environments in “Lowdensitypolyethylene,” German photographer Julian Faulhaber’s solo debut in the US, are captivating on multiple levels. Faulhaber has a flair for the dramatic, and transforms images of banal—albeit strikingly colored—urban and other environments into psychologically portentous compositions. The artist photographs his subjects—nightclubs, loading docks, shopping complexes, sports arenas, apartments—at their moment of completion. They are Edenic, as yet unsullied by human touch, but poised for first use. Faulhaber infuses each image with an eerie hermeticism derived

  • Graham Caldwell

    The sixteen wall-mounted transparent- and silvered-glass sculptures in Graham Caldwell’s recent exhibition “Anatomies” are, variously, dishlike, globular, and spiky and appear inspired by fangs, antlers, and the weird life forms that grow near deep-sea volcanic fissures. They recall the work of Josiah McElheny, Eva Hesse, and Ernesto Neto, melding humor, narcissism, and disorientation with a creeping unease. Caldwell is a skilled glassmaker, as evinced by the work’s refined finish, but unlike Dale Chihuly, he eschews flamboyant colors in favor of black, white, gray, and amber. This restricted

  • Colby Caldwell

    Nostalgia maintains a coy but persistent presence in Colby Caldwell’s exhibition “small game,” the title of which refers in part to both the visual legerdemain possible with Photoshop and to his family’s legacy of hunting in North Carolina and Montana. The show consisted of twenty-two photographs and a five-channel video installation, all relating human interaction with landscape to themes of presence and absence, nostalgia and memory.

    The physicality of traditional photography has long been a driving force behind Caldwell’s work, but “small game” represents his parallel dedication to the use of

  • Leo Villareal

    Leo Villareal’s sumptuous and transporting light sculptures are firmly rooted in the artist’s interest in underlying structures and rules, particularly the systems-based theories of mathematician John Conway. For more than a decade, the Yale-trained sculptor has been developing a rich visual vocabulary based on the use of multicolored incandescent, strobe, neon, and LED bulbs. His preferred format is a light-studded circular, square, or rectangular wall-mounted structure fronted with translucent Plexiglas that diffuses the changing patterns of the illumination beneath. The effect is part ’60s

  • picks January 09, 2007

    “Robert Ryman: Small Works”

    Collectively, the twenty-six paintings and drawings in “Robert Ryman: Small Works” provide an excellent primer on this important artist and form a splendid temporary pendant to Philadelphia Prototype, 2002, a luminous ten-panel painting recently acquired by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Nearly all date from 1958 to 1966 and feature the artist’s highly circumscribed yet richly nuanced inquiries into the relationships between paint (mostly white) and support. Significantly, several of the works have never been exhibited, while a handful of others have been shown only once before, at