Nuit Banai

  • “Soto: Paris And Beyond, 1950–1970”

    If what set postwar France’s most ambitious artists apart was their grappling with painting’s potential as a generative site for aesthetic forms, perceptual models, and social experiences, then it is high time to reassess the “kinetic” contributions of the Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto.

    If what set postwar France’s most ambitious artists apart was their grappling with painting’s potential as a generative site for aesthetic forms, perceptual models, and social experiences, then it is high time to reassess the “kinetic” contributions of the Venezuelan artist Jesús Rafael Soto. At the Grey Art Gallery, approximately fifty works made in the twenty years after he moved to Paris in 1950, including a dozen of his “Vibrations,” will evidence Soto’s experiments with painting’s hybrid condition as a material surface provoking immaterial effects, as a static

  • picks December 01, 2011

    Maya Bloch, Stan VanDerBeek, “Art and the Côte d’Azur”

    My secret, if I have one, is that I’ve always loved painting and its ability to reinvent its own stakes as a medium. Maya Bloch, an emerging artist from Tel Aviv, seductively accomplished this task in “Hello Stranger” at Thierry Goldberg Projects by probing the relationship between realism and abstraction. In Bloch’s portraits, the dissolution of faces and bodies into so many spills and discharges of fluid enacts a material and conceptual slippage between form and formlessness and suggests that the morphological alterity that long haunted modernist painting has become the operational matrix

  • Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari

    Between 1997 and 2010, the collaborative duo Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari crisscrossed their way through Turkey in search of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the writer, revolutionary statesman, military officer, and founder of the Republic of Turkey, who died in 1938. Or rather, the artists (who identify themselves as American and Turkish-Levantine, respectively) sought to capture the symbolic power of his image, which continues to resonate for divergent sectors of the country. With a provocative title suggesting the multiplicity that haunts every proper name, “7 Turkish Artists: Mike Mandel and Chantal

  • François Morellet

    IT IS IRONIC that François Morellet remains most recognized for his affiliation with GRAV (Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel), since the Paris-based collective aimed precisely to do away with the artist as author. Between 1960 and 1968, Horacio García Rossi, Julio Le Parc, Morellet, Francisco Sobrino, Joël Stein, and Yvaral produced objects, events, and environments that challenged spectators to take on a participatory role as makers of meaning. The group complicated not only the phenomenological singularity of artist and spectator but also the contemporaneous definition of “visual art” through

  • Leslie Hewitt

    There was something disquieting about Leslie Hewitt’s recent exhibition, titled “Riffs on Real Time,” which featured a sequence of ten highly stylized photographs by the same name, and a sleek installation, Untitled, 2011. Each of the photographs (all 2006–2009), while offering unique pictorial content, had been made using a single compositional template. A primary image (culled from sources such as the monumental archives of American history or the minor registers of personal histories) is centrally placed on a larger book, photo, or other document so that the image appears framed; in turn,

  • Michal Rovner

    In a corner of the Cour Napoléon, the Louvre’s central courtyard, Michal Rovner and a team of Israeli and Palestinian masons added two temporary monuments to the celebrated axe historique of Paris. Makom II and Makom IV, both 2011—the word means place in Hebrew—were aptly framed by the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, a Neoclassical homage to Napoleon’s military conquests, and I. M. Pei’s Pyramid, a spectacular punctuation mark to postmodernism. In activating these composite spaces and layers of signification, Rovner delved into the conundrum of how to find common ground between Israelis

  • Carlos Cruz-Diez

    Though long a paramount presence in his native Venezuela and the Parisian milieu he entered more than fifty years ago, the eighty-eight-year-old maestro Carlos Cruz-Diez has enjoyed a surge of interest in the past decade, and this traveling exhibition, attentively curated by Mari Carmen Ramírez, constitutes his first comprehensive survey on North American soil. Foregrounding Cruz-Diez’s lifelong desire to activate chroma as an autonomous force distinct from other aesthetic elements such as line, form, and composition and from such historical contingencies as race, class, ethnicity, and gender—an

  • picks July 12, 2011

    Pep Agut

    Emerging from a trajectory of Conceptual art that decenters the aesthetic object, disaggregating it into contingent elements, Pep Agut’s latest exhibition, “Horizon Problems,” suggests that architecture, photography, and language function as disciplinary and creative modes of capturing and constructing phenomenological experience. In the sculptural installation Dislocation, 2011, Agut lowers the gallery’s ceiling to his own height and turns critique into a participatory encounter that initiates the public into his aesthetic and physical horizon. In the accompanying sound piece, Agut calmly

  • Claire Beckett

    Claire Beckett’s crisp, large-format photographs of US soldiers preparing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan capture the complexity of the nation’s post-9/11 military operations in their intertwinement with imaging systems—photography and film/video—that are premised on a false sense of proximity. Granted security clearance to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, Beckett spent more than three years documenting army personnel and civilian workers engaging in role-play exercises aimed at readying new soldiers for the populations and perils they would likely encounter

  • Avigdor Arikha

    Avigdor Arikha passed away on April 29, 2010, at the age of eighty-one. Born in Romania, he survived the Holocaust and was brought to Palestine by the Red Cross in 1944. After three years of study at the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem and a near-fatal stint in the War of Independence of 1948, he won a scholarship to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Though he spent most of his artistic life in France, he is lauded as a titan of twentieth-century Israeli art.

    This two-part exhibition, “Homage to Avigdor Arikha: Self-Portraits/ Illustrations to ‘A Stray Dog’

  • picks December 18, 2010

    Christopher K. Ho

    Christopher K. Ho’s second solo exhibition, “Regional Painting,” emerges from the productive friction between the year the artist spent in a southwestern Colorado town and the fictional trajectory of “Hirsch E. P. Rothko,” an embittered Conceptual artist turned born-again painter. The show consists of twelve abstract paintings and Hirsch’s acerbic memoir (supposedly ghostwritten by one Inez Kruckev). Overall, it underscores an earnest attempt to carve out an alternative model of criticality by contending with the contemporary meaning of regionalism.

    After dutifully ingesting all the “correct”

  • Ann Toebbe

    Though each of the nine works in Ann Toebbe’s “Housekeeping" exhibition resonates with the discourse of authenticity often assigned to the craft-based, naive/folk style that characterizes her aesthetic, one would be hard-pressed to identify a specific emotional tenor or affective viewpoint in the mundane trappings of the interiors that her paintings depict. The china gracing the dining room shelves, the handmade baubles keeping company with technological devices in the living room, the cookware splayed across the kitchen counter—rather than alluding to some kind of conjugal psychodrama, Toebbe’s

  • Yves Klein

    IN 1958, YVES KLEIN scandalized the Parisian public by presenting nothing but a whitewashed room with a lone, empty vitrine at Galerie Iris Clert. The exhibition, known as “Le Vide” (The Void), was marked by the momentousness of its opening. Among the guests was Albert Camus, who presented Klein with a piece of paper bearing the phrase “Avec le vide les pleins pouvoirs” (With the void, full powers). The room, Klein asserted, contained an “invisible pictorial state,” one that is “direct” and requires no “intermediaries.” Yet these claims of pure presence had to be reinforced: Klein limited the

  • Absalon

    When the Israeli artist Meir Eshel moved to Paris in the late 1980s, he adopted the pseudonym Absalon.

    When the Israeli artist Meir Eshel moved to Paris in the late 1980s, he adopted the pseudonym Absalon. There, in the short time before his sudden death at the age of twenty-nine, he made groups of work with generic titles such as “Proposals for Everyday Objects” and “Proposals for Habitats,” including a set of extremely restrictive nomadic living units based on the dimensions of his own body. He termed these structures Cellules—“bastions of resistance to a society that stops me from becoming what I must become.” This exhibition, the first comprehensive consideration of

  • Suzannah Sinclair

    Suzannah Sinclair’s wistful watercolor-and-pencil renderings of the female nude are positioned within a discourse on the construction of desire in a culture organized around the power of the male gaze. Her source material insists on this particular framework: She uses images taken from men’s magazines and advertisements dating from the early 1970s, the very era in which feminist critiques of the regime of masculine visual pleasure began to take hold. Seductively sprawled on beds, sofas, and rugs or suggestively propped in lush natural landscapes, Sinclair’s sirens assume the familiar poses,

  • picks March 29, 2010

    Gina Dawson

    There is something heart-wrenching about Gina Dawson’s intricately crafted paper and fabric monuments to rejection. The two bodies of work—taken from negative responses Dawson received via letter or e-mail, from a host of art institutions, to submissions she made over the years—form a meticulously fabricated archive of psychic wounds.

    For one series, the artist sewed six rebuffs verbatim in black thread on a coarse white fabric. Each piece is an exact rendering of the communiqué’s format and font and includes the name of the official delivering the bad news. In the second, eight miniature paper

  • picks February 18, 2010

    Mette Tronvoll

    Mette Tronvoll’s spare Boston debut, comprising a total of six photographs from two different series, perhaps fits her restrained aesthetic approach. The Norwegian artist has spent two decades honing a documentary language that tries to mesh objective distancing and typological categorization with the construction and communication of intimacy.

    For the “Isortoq Unartoq” series, 1998–99, Tronvoll visited Greenland during two consecutive summers, camping on the sparsely populated southeastern island of Isortoq and the hot-spring-rich southern island of Uunartoq. In the midst of this harsh, glacial

  • picks January 20, 2010

    Liz Glynn

    Following The 24 Hour Roman Reconstruction Project, her contribution to the New Museum’s first triennial in 2009, Liz Glynn continues to explore the fraught relationship between institutions and art objects. For her latest venture, California Surrogates for the Getty, 2009, she trawled the Dumpsters of the venerable Los Angeles institute to dig up common materials (the exhibition checklist cites “California yard waste, trash, plaster, and Victory wax”) that she repurposed to make copies of the disputed antiquities returned by the museum to Italy in 2007.

    Displayed on austere steel shelves and

  • Rebecca Chamberlain

    Rebecca Chamberlain’s intensely labored, monochromatic ballpoint and litho ink drawings of modernist interiors may seem to fixate on the heroic staging of the relationship between form and function, but they are primarily engaged with capturing the residue of the lives that once animated the structures they depict. Though people are entirely absent, their affective traces permeate the artist’s elegant renderings of domestic, administrative, and factory spaces; the effect is that of a missed encounter, as if the spectator has arrived a few moments too late and must reconstruct the departed

  • picks November 12, 2009

    David X. Levine

    Despite the fact that both his relationship to his idols and their rapport with him is completely projected, David X. Levine’s exhibition of drawings, “Brian Wilson Loves You,” is a confession of the musical devotee’s intense closeness to his subjects. In fact, while the viewer of Levine’s homage to musicians like Chuck Berry, Janis Joplin, and Amy Winehouse may imagine that the “You” in the title is directed at them, it seems more likely that it is the artist’s wishful desire for a reciprocal affinity with the performers.

    Yet much like that of Andy Warhol, the ultimate fan, Levine’s work