Ren Ebel

  • performance April 27, 2020

    Weak House

    ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY, around two weeks into my quarantine in Spain, I attended a comedy show: thirty minutes of new material by Maria Bamford, provisionally titled The New Material Show, broadcast live and for free via Zoom from her home in Los Angeles. A couple of hours before showtime, I received an email which began with a caveat that doubled as an enticement: “Instead of comedy, this may feel uncomfortable.”

    Bamford is no stranger to discomfort, or to working from home. Her comedy, whose predominant themes are family and mental illness, has often availed itself to a kind of self-imposed house

  • picks March 23, 2020

    Vivian Suter

    After her studio in Panajachel, Guatemala, was destroyed by Hurricane Stan in 2005, Vivian Suter began adapting her painting practice to her temperamental environment. She started painting large abstract washes of color outdoors, leaving the unstretched canvases to dry in the jungles near Lake Atitlán. Pigment, house paint, fish glue, rainwater, leaves, mud, and errant marks left by plant and animal life combine to form energetic compositions inspired and manipulated by nature.

    For “Tintin’s Sofa,” the Swiss Argentine artist’s latest exhibition at Camden Arts Centre, scores of these paintings

  • picks December 18, 2019

    Per Kirkeby

    The Danish artist Per Kirkeby died last year, leaving behind a body of work that seems to have zigzagged through a gnarly forest of twentieth-century art-historical landmarks: Pop-adjacent figurative paintings, expressionist abstractions, brick sculptures blending Danish masonry and Minimalist seriality, and quietly odd bronzes resembling engorged and mangled Giacomettis. Later on, he became internationally known for his work with Lars von Trier, designing titles and visual interludes for Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark, and Antichrist. This modest retrospective, “Hommage à Per Kirkeby,”

  • picks October 21, 2019

    Richard Wentworth

    Long before artists had Instagram, Richard Wentworth began documenting moments of accidental sculpture encountered on city streets, ultimately collecting them in his ongoing photo series “Making Do and Getting By.Banal yet uncanny, those abandoned household objects, tangles of construction debris, and DIY patch jobs described a kind of assemblage motivated not by taste, but by something more practical and desperate. The sculptures in “Lecciones Aprendidas” (Lessons Learned), Wentworth’s current show at Nogueras Blanchard, aim to emulate this provisional quality.

    Writing History (all works cited,

  • picks August 23, 2019

    Joan Jonas

    Within the dreamy grotto of Joan Jonas’s exhibition “Moving Off the Land II,” one appropriately feels swallowed up by a gigantic fish. Towers of skeleton-like metal scaffolding mask the inner walls of the sixteenth-century church that is now home to Venice’s Ocean Space, an interdisciplinary venue with a focus on marine research and advocacy. These remnants of the Chiesa di San Lorenzo’s renovation, kept in place by Jonas for this inaugural exhibition, obscure the structure’s sacred context while retaining its grand scale and cavernous echo. High above hang enlarged images of sea creatures

  • picks July 08, 2019

    Oier Iruretagoiena

    It seems the quaint rural scene has lost its palliative effect in the age of climate disaster. Four of the seven works in Oier Iruretagoiena’s exhibition “Hezur berriak” (New Bones) are pieced together from discarded amateur landscape paintings the artist collected over two years. He dissected and rearranged these canvases into irregularly layered quilt-like banners, sutured by the visible runs of a sewing machine. What comes through most clearly is the latent charge in these generic and sentimental subjects—craning treetops, mazelike groves, a distant seaside village—as they index the ambiguous