Nuit Banai

  • View of “Barry McGee,” 2013.

    Barry McGee

    His myth looms large: Barry McGee, tag name “Twist,” San Francisco–based art-school graduate, graffiti artist, and vital player in the emergence of the Mission School aesthetic. Following its breathless tributes to Shepard Fairey in 2009 and Os Gemeos in 2012, the ICA Boston is hosting McGee’s traveling survey, which originated at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, where it was organized by Lawrence Rinder and Dena Beard. While the show offers a tempting occasion to rehearse the problematics of populist curatorial programming, those critical arguments

  • Cildo Meireles, Marulho (Surge of the Sea), 1991, wood decking, books, audio track. Installation view, Museu de Arte Moderna de Rio de Janeiro.

    Cildo Meireles

    One of the most significant Brazilian artists to emerge in the 1970s, Cildo Meireles epitomizes the ways in which Latin American artists have reshaped art-historical narratives of modernism and its aftermaths. His practice opens onto the experiential with formal elegance and arresting political critique. In Madrid, Meireles presents more than 100 pieces, a selection organized around an axis of four major works: Olvido (Oblivion), 1987; Marulho (Surge of the Sea), 1991; Abajur (Lantern), 2010; and Amerikka, an installation conceived in 1991 that comprises a floor of 20,000

  • Amalia Pica, If These Walls Could Talk (with door) (detail), 2011, wood, tin cans, screws, paint, glue, string. Installation view.

    Amalia Pica

    In her first major museum exhibition in the United States, Amalia Pica considers the urgency of communication and our continual experience of its failure. Honing this discussion, the London-based Argentinean deliberates on the relationship between the one and the many and on the ways in which singular speech acts simultaneously contain the possibility and hopelessness of collective enunciation. Pica’s conceptual practice at large is highly attentive to images and forms, broaching “the political” in the broadest possible terms—a distinct strategy among a generation of artists represented to

  • Amnon Ben-Ami, Alma, 2011, oil on paper, 19 5/8 x 13 3/4". From the series “Alma,” 2011.

    Amnon Ben-Ami

    In “Zephyr,” an exhibition bringing together a decade of work, Amnon Ben-Ami stealthily assumed an aesthetic nonchalance to suggest how difficult it is to communicate ideas and remind us of how intricate the processes of looking and knowing can be. However light and schematic his touch in a painting such as Sole, 2011, and however insignificant its subject, the work’s impressive scale forces a moment of reckoning; and while the bonding of two pieces of wood is demonstrated with the greatest possible literalness in Gluing, 2010, his paintings and sculptural objects are far from simple. Levity,

  • Dor Guez, Two Palestinian Riders, Ben Shemen Forest, 2011, Duratrans, light box, 37 1/4 x 118".

    Dor Guez

    In Dor Guez’s 2009 video July 13, the artist’s maternal grandfather, Jacob Monayer, declares, “I won’t go into politics.” Jacob, the patriarch of the Christian Arab family that is the subject of Guez’s recent exhibition “100 Steps to the Mediterranean,” nevertheless goes on to recount the conquest of the city of al-Lydd by the Israel Defense Forces on the titular date in 1948—a day when much of the population (approximately one thousand Palestinians, mostly Christians) was forced into exile, taking refuge in and around the Church of Saint George. The area, soon cordoned off by the Israelis

  • Julianne Swartz, Line Drawing, 2003/2012, plastic tape, lenses, Plexiglas, mirrors, lights, fans, PVC pipe, objects found on-site. Installation view.

    Julianne Swartz

    “How Deep Is Your,” the elliptical title of Julianne Swartz’s first major museum survey, doubles as the title of a 2012 work that comprises a seemingly incompatible overlay of two distinctive sound tracks about love transported through the museum’s meandering architecture by way of bright blue plastic and pvc tubing. The unlikely entwinement of the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band track “Love/Sing” with the Bee Gees’ sentimental pop song “How Deep Is Your Love” offers a synesthetic invitation to consider the many improbable aesthetic dualities that course through nearly everything Swartz produces.

  • Larry Abramson, 1967 (Ha’Aretz) (detail), 2011–12, oil, crayon, and graphite on newspaper, fifty-two sheets, each 20 1/2 x 16 1/2".

    Larry Abramson

    The title of Larry Abramson’s recent exhibition “1967” inevitably evokes the Six-Day War, which took place in June of that year. The two works it included raise questions about the ideological conditions that made this campaign conceivable as a national endeavor as well as the implications of the decisive geographical expansion following Israel’s victory. At the same time, thanks to Abramson’s sustained exploration of the tensions between figuration and abstraction as they intersect with the genre of landscape, the show was firmly grounded in an art-historical investigation of the ways in which

  • View of “Critical Mass,” 2012.
    picks August 24, 2012

    “Critical Mass”

    While the debut exhibition at this museum’s new Herta and Paul Amir Building looked to Europe, with monumental oil paintings by Anselm Kiefer, the second turns toward South Asia, with a group show of seventeen emerging and established Indian artists working in video, photography, installation, painting, and sculpture. “Critical Mass” is an ambitious sprawl that tries, in the curators’ words, to capture India’s “material density”—shorthand for the dissonant textures, cultures, and living conditions in this country’s expanding economy.

    The desire to synthesize the salient features of “Indian art”

  • Pavel Wolberg, Hebron, Purim, 2012, black-and-white photograph, 26 3/16 x 70 7/8".
    picks June 19, 2012

    Pavel Wolberg

    Pavel Wolberg’s recent photographs use genre and technique to convey the peculiar bind tying both religious and secular contemporary Israeli culture to historic mandates and the desire for self-realization in a modern nation-state. As large-format, black-and-white panoramas, they stake out a place within the historical genre of landscape, while their rather straightforward documentary mode links them to the immediacy of present-day life in diverse sectors of Israeli society. In these images, located simultaneously in the monumental longue durée and the fleeting moment, Wolberg reveals the often

  • Left: Outside the Fresh Paint art fair. Right: Fresh Paint art fair curators Yifat Gurion and Matan Daube. (All photos: Nuit Banai)
    diary May 26, 2012

    Back to School

    A MINISTRY OF TOURISM SNAFU had me arriving in Tel Aviv the day after the professional preview of the Fresh Paint art fair, cabbing it on the fly from Jerusalem because there were no hotel rooms to be found in the coastal city known as “the bubble.” Nevertheless, catching the fifth installment of the fair on the particularly humid night of the public opening was a revelation. Thousands of sweaty bodies jammed the sandy parking lot of a newly built high school in the northwestern part of the city. It was a crowd of flip-flops, shorts, and T-shirts, and together we slouched into the facilities to

  • Josh Mannis, Zeal for the Law, 2012, still from a color HD video, 7 minutes 56 seconds.

    Josh Mannis

    The rather beguiling title of Josh Mannis’s exhibition “Zeal for the Law” interconnects what might otherwise seem to be a rather disparate body of work. Such an emphatic allusion to authority also invites appraisal of the artist’s drawing, collage, and video work as successful citations of art-historical styles and provocative explorations of genre. His compilation of procedures, which hits all the right contemporary signifiers, emits a distinct whiff of le bon ton; yet, with equal aplomb, Mannis transgresses these very same aesthetic regulations.

    For example, The Law, 2011, is a hanging tartan

  • Carlos Silva, Agoo, 1965, oil on wood, 70 7/8 x 70 7/8". From “Real/Virtual: Argentine Kinetic Art in the Sixties.”

    “Real/Virtual: Argentine Kinetic Art in the Sixties”

    The aesthetic networks connecting Europe and Latin America have generated extensive research in recent years, and this double genealogy of kinetic art in France and Argentina places “Le Mouvement”—Parisian gallerist Denise René’s pivotal 1955 show of “Color-Light-Motion-Time”—at the fulcrum. From there, curator María José Herrera locates three crucial points of reception, radicalization, and regularization in the Argentinean expanded field: Victor Vasarely’s 1958 arrival in Buenos Aires and the influence of his “lessons” in seriality; Groupe de Recherche