Ren Ebel

  • View of “CAConrad: 13 Moons: Listen to the Golden Boomerang Return.”
    picks May 18, 2022


    In CAConrad’s poem-rituals, words do not play coy. For the Kansas-born poet, language is less a refuge or flight of fancy than a means of facing pain head-on; theirs is the emphatic and honest bedside manner needed by an ailing planet. “13 Moons: Listen to the Golden Boomerang’s Return,” the artist’s first solo exhibition, is built from two recent collections of concrete poetry. The thirteen poems comprised by 13 Moons, 2014, are hung along the curved end of the gallery, while each of the 4 Antiwar Poems, 2022, appears emblazoned on a large white banner draped from the ceiling. Their forms—redolent

  • Enric Farrés Duran,fems nous, fems vells, 2022, Photography, 11 3/4 × 8 1/4". Photo: Roberto Ruiz.
    picks May 03, 2022

    Enric Farrés Duran

    While many artists have turned to “the archive” as an allegory for the various mechanisms and politics involved in historiography, few have done so while resisting the urge to create a dense, unwieldy archive of their own. Enric Farrés Duran’s exhibition “Acid Love Forever”the result of the artist’s recent collaboration with the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona’s historical archive—foregrounds the tools and fetishes of the archivist, assembling a collection of bleak and funny objects that provide quick, conceptual plunges into the quixotic ideals of art conservation.

    While some pieces play

  • View of “Katinka Bock,” 2021. Wall, from left: Alex Pompeii, 2021; For your eyes only, parte pelo todo, 2019. Floor: Aal und aal (Eel and Eel), 2021. Photo: Jose Maria Soroa.

    Katinka Bock

    The tympanic bone, a concave dome on a whale’s skull, houses the giant mammal’s inner ear. With this relatively small, resonant chamber, whales both maintain their sense of equilibrium and intercept far-off sonic transmissions from across the ocean. Le navigateur (all works cited, 2021), the ceramic centerpiece of Katinka Bock’s exhibition “Segment with unknown radius,” was modeled after this bone’s unusual shape. Dangling in the center of the gallery, it resembled a giant disintegrating bean skewered on a copper rod and doused in a thick glaze of bottle green, the color of algae or sea glass.

  • Ander Sagastiberri, Untitled, 2021, oil on canvas, 5 x 4".
    picks November 15, 2021

    Ander Sagastiberri

    The question posed by the title of Ander Sagastiberri’s solo exhibition “I Do Have Seen Some Objeto Volador No Identificados Do You?” looms over the twenty-one untitled paintings like a garbled transmission from outer space. The disorienting effect of the wonky half-translation extends to the work itself, which is vexingly shrunken. Most of the paintings are the size of mock artworks for a dollhouse or museum model, ranging in height from a few inches to no more than nine. Their scale demands extreme proximity from the viewer, lending the elaborate compositions a pressurized intensity. Sagastiberri’s

  • León Ferrari, La justicia/1492–1992 Quinto centenario de la Conquista (Justice/1492–1992 Fifth Centenary of the Conquest), 1992, mixed media. Installation view. Photo: Joaquín Cortés/Román Lores.

    León Ferrari

    Near the entrance to “La bondadosa crueldad: León Ferrari, 100 años” (The Kind Cruelty: León Ferrari, 100 Years), a survey dedicated to the Argentinean artist—who died in 2013 at the age of ninety-two—hung a letter from New York–based nonprofit Franklin Furnace, apologetically declining Ferrari’s request that a live vulture be included in “Heretic Chapel,” his 1987 show there.

    The vulture is an easy symbol for the bloodlust and cruel indifference that so often prompted Ferrari’s prankish and poignant satire. Two of these birds can in fact be seen skulking like cartoon villains aboard the Santa

  • Paulino Viota, Fin de un invierno (A winter’s end), 1968. 16 mm. black and white, 27 minutes.
    picks November 03, 2020

    Paulino Viota

    Though it references Paulino Viota’s 1970 opus in its title, “Paulino Viota, Contactos” omits that singular insurgent classic of underground cinema to instead highlight the Spanish filmmaker’s obsessive research and adaptive visual style. Much of the gallery is taken up by several works on paper—artifacts of Viota’s lifelong practice as both film scholar and teacher: a dense visual diagram of the famous Odessa Steps scene from Battleship Potemkin, a Jakobsonian dissection of Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 129,” and a collaged encyclopedia-cum-fanzine on Godard’s cinema. 

    Four of Viota’s short films are,

  • Maria Bamford in Lady Dynamite, which aired on Netflix from 2016 to 2017. Photo: Netflix.
    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

  • View of Vivian Suter's “Tintin's Sofa,” 2020.
    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

  • Per Kirkeby, Untitled, 2015, mixed media on Masonite, 48 x 48''.
    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,”

  • Richard Wentworth, Writing History, 2019, galvanized chicken wire, wood trestle leg, bricks, 20 7/8 × 33 7/8 × 29 7/8 ''.
    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,

  • View of Joan Jonas's “Moving Off the Land II,” 2019.
    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

  • Oier Iruretagoiena, Cold ears, 2018, papier-mâché, wood, staples, screws, varnish, 27 1/2 x 19  5/8 x 4''.
    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