Quinn Latimer

  • Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, blockbuster, 2012, mixed media. Installation view.

    Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs

    There is a specifically Swiss sense of humor—droll, dark, sweetly absurd, weirdly winning—that effortlessly explodes smallness yet resoundingly resists critical explanation. See, for example, Robert Walser’s modernist literary set pieces that chart the delusions of grandeur of clerks who would be kings (i.e., all of us), or Fischli and Weiss’s more profanely material take on the existential traffic between the provincial and the urbane. Another Swiss duo, Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, might be the latest entry into this singular national lineage. For the past decade, the pair, who

  • View of “Valentina Stieger,” 2012.

    Valentina Stieger

    Valentina Stieger’s recent exhibition “Good Figures” found new power in familiar ideas. Exploring a high/low dialectic that is now a well-trod path by marrying the austere forms of modernism to a kitschy domesticity evoked by quotidian household materials, her work still incites a frisson of recognition. The show’s constellation of works employed the bright or banal emblems of the hausfrau—pillowcases, a clothes-hanger railing, decorative plaster—to more art-historically driven ends. But even if the works’ persuasive abstraction began between quotes, that is not quite where it ended.

  • Left: Artist Wolfgang Tillmans and dealer Daniel Buchholz. Right: Artist Anne Rochat. (All photos: Quinn Latimer)
    diary September 09, 2012

    Local Color

    SWITZERLAND IS SMALL, petite, pocket-size, economic, the same size as Presidio County in West Texas, however you want to call it, so any season opening invariably involves three or more cities. Thus Zurich’s anticipated early-autumnal kickoffs actually began in Bern, the weekend before, when Emanuel Rossetti and Tobias Madison’s latest curatorial endeavor—the hyperdiscursively titled group show “TCCA NEW THEATER 2012-2013 APN Research あぷん autoslides #1-3 shindisi home videos the deleted scene a fanzine as a museum / a museum as a fanzine cut-out bin / apnegative sci-fi sounds from the alienated

  • Left: Artist Danh Vo. Right: Artists Shana Lutker and Adriana Lara with musician Paolo Thorsen-Nagel. (Photos: Quinn Latimer)
    diary June 19, 2012

    Play It Again

    WHAT TONE SHALL I ADOPT to describe the familiar fun-cum-freakiness of Art Basel week? Exhaustion, elation, tipsiness, world-weariness, boredom, excitement? Whatever. Let’s begin, as they say, at the beginning. I arrived in Basel with a vicious cold gleaned from either Rome, where I had spent three days at the Swiss Institute’s gorgeous villa as part of Paweł Althamer’s Draftsman’s Congress, or Kassel, where, well, you know. So Art Basel’s opening days comprised events that I only heard tale of from the spy I sent in my stead.

    Among these was a Sunday night kickoff dinner that artist Matthew

  • Lydia Gifford, Rest, 2012, house paint, clay, gauze, wood, pigment, beeswax, chalk, 50 3/8 x 42 1/2 x 2".

    Jonathan Binet, Lydia Gifford, and David Ostrowski

    The gestural, the provisional, the elliptical, the casual, the specific, the latent; the cool, the warm; the frame, the floor, the wall: Perhaps it is right that this show of abstract paintings (or framelike, wall-supported assemblages or two-dimensional-ish sculptures in the posture of paintings) should invoke so many abstractions and oblique architectural referents. If the three young artists gathered here work in a contemporary language of painting that is familiar—its roots in post-Minimalism, its present in the long, glittery shadow of current abstract painting influenced by photographic

  • Thomas Huber, Rede in der Schule (Talk in the School), 1983, mixed media. Installation view.

    Thomas Huber

    Some years ago at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, I saw an exhibition of architectural maquettes depicting buildings and cities that in some strange, spectral sense were instantly familiar, though they didn’t approximate buildings from real life; instead, they were modeled from the architectonic worlds of literary classics. The show’s premise was unique yet not unfamiliar. The singular relationship between language and architecture might be distilled by the most common term for a poetic unit or grouping of lines: the stanza, which means “room” in Italian. This relationship can also be

  • Javier Téllez, Rotations (Prometheus and Zwitter), 2011, two 35-mm film projections, 7 minutes each. Installation view.

    Javier Téllez

    One of the guiding images that drives his practice, Javier Téllez has said, is a memory from childhood. As a kid in Venezuela, Téllez would visit his psychiatrist father at the hospital where he worked. During carnival, when the world turns upside down, the mental patients would trade their uniforms for the doctors’ sterile white coats. In that strange, mutable moment, the paternalistic binaries of doctor and patient, normative and pathological, broke down. And so, eventually, Téllez’s videos and films—with their carnivalesque admixture of fiction and document, fantasia and poetic

  • View of “Diango Hernández,” 2011.

    Diango Hernández

    Diango Hernández has in the past noted, both slyly and acutely, his own “tropical sensitivities.” Certainly they could be discerned in the Düsseldorf-based Cuban artist’s quietly exhilarating exhibition in Basel, though not in the conventional or clichéd forms that evocations of the tropics so often take; there were no potted palms or brightly patterned tiles. Instead, the elegant if strangely alien modernism (Europe by way of the Caribbean and back again) emanating from the objects, paintings, and assemblages on view seemed keyed to a peculiar humidity. That is to say, if one were to gauge the

  • Wade Guyton, Untitled, 2011, Epson UltraChrome K3 ink jet on linen, 9' 1/4“ x 18' 4 1/2”. Galerie Francesca Pia.

    Wade Guyton

    “In these days of austerity and cutbacks, the artist is saving ink.” The artist is Wade Guyton, of course, and the wry sentence (Occupy Epson?) is from the press release for his recent two-part exhibition in Zurich. Guyton’s process is now implicit—any lay student of contemporary art knows that he feeds folds of primed canvas into his taxed and sputtering Epson printers—as are the conceptual and critical implications of that process and its resulting works: painting after the fact, postindustrial manufacture of gorgeously distilled canvases offering the retro payoff that comes of

  • Fabio Marco Pirovino, ferrari 1913 (generic solution), 2011, Venetian stucco, chalk plaster, Ferrari lacquer, gypsum, 67 x 108 1/4".

    Fabio Marco Pirovino

    Last year, one of Kunsthalle Basel’s exterior walls was given over to an abstract mural featuring a jumble of black, white, and gray planes. If the work conjured the camouflage worn in the bleached-out cities and wars of the Middle East, another reference, just as politically potent and war-saturated, also asserted itself: Picasso’s Guernica. Fabio Marco Pirovino’s mural had started as a Google reproduction of this work, which the Basel-born artist flipped around and processed through Photoshop, so that its figurative details became flat, graphic shapes. Using a fresco technique, Pirovino then

  • Lucy Stein, Gambas al Pil-Pil, 2011, oil on canvas, 47 1/4 x 35 1/2".

    Lucy Stein

    After an interviewer in 2009 asked the then thirty-year-old Lucy Stein how her career had thus far been marked by feminism, the Glasgow-based English artist noted, “I fully expect to be marginalized and then become a grande dame and then a ‘treasure’ at the age of eighty or so, the usual trajectory for a woman making so-called raw paintings.” Her acerbic answer evoked a rainbow of greats: from late-life images by painters Maria Lassnig, Alice Neel, and Joan Semmel, to sculptors such as the Louises Bourgeois and Nevelson—all scraped-back hair and jutting, geometric jewelry—each of whose

  • View of “Mai-Thu Perret,” 2011.

    Mai-Thu Perret

    Utopias—imaginary, historical, political, emotional—are often mentioned in the conversations that swirl around Mai-Thu Perret’s multifarious oeuvre, yet there is a subtle dystopian fever to her project. Take the Geneva-based artist’s more than decadelong work The Crystal Frontier, 1998–, a body of writings describing a fictive women’s commune in the New Mexico desert, where the authoritarian strictures of patriarchal urban capitalism have been shrugged off like so many old robes. The satirical potential of the subject, focused as it is on a decidedly outdated feminist model of society,