Saskia Draxler

  • picks February 24, 2009

    Lone Haugaard Madsen, Benjamin Hirte, Niklas Lichti . . .

    The deck seems to have been reshuffled: Instead of broad curatorial concepts, there is now a return to more specific exhibitions that have grown organically and entail carefully selected relationships. Perhaps inspired by the institutional critique of artists such as Daniel Buren and Michael Asher, Lone Haugaard Madsen’s art is rooted in an intense engagement with production and exhibition spaces. For this small group show in Vienna, Madsen presents three works including a clump of colorful paper shreds that rests on a stage made of wooden boards, a platform for both sculpture and performance.

  • picks February 11, 2009

    “One More”

    In making his 1964 work BLACKPLANEBLACKPLANEBLACKPLANEBLACK, Carl Andre repeated this sequence of words in twenty-one lines on a sheet of paper until the text formed a compact cube, as a reference to Malevich’s black squares. To draw attention away from the original, Andre also made a carbon copy of the work and, third and finally, a photocopy, which is the version typically displayed in exhibitions. This small piece confronts pure forms and writing as pictorial material, but it also functions as a means to link strategies of Minimal and Conceptual art, to which this exhibition, curated by New

  • picks February 03, 2009

    “Figure/Ground”

    Belgium is just full of surprises these days. This exhibition, curated by the young Austrian artist Andreas Fogarasi, features the work of several artists living in Vienna. Fogarasi’s contribution to the show, Antwerp Sights/Architecture, 2009, consists of two tiny buildings extracted from Antwerp tourist maps, affixed to large white cardboard panels, and framed under glass. Working on the threshold of architecture, Fogarasi often explores social engineering in his work; here the Antwerp sport stadium and new courthouse by star British architect Richard Rogers appear as both landmark buildings

  • picks January 28, 2009

    Aernout Mik

    Aernout Mik’s videos, usually formatted for high-definition horizontal screens and projected in the midst of exhibition architecture of his own design, often make visible the imbalances of power in relationships found in everyday scenarios and actions. This ongoing interest is just as salient in the Dutch artist’s most recent work, Touch, Rise, and Fall, 2008, which depicts a whimsical perversion of security procedures at an airport. Here the potential for violence inherent to searches performed on bodies and belongings is evident throughout: the nervous line of waiting travelers, their reluctant

  • picks January 20, 2009

    Xavier Mary

    The young Belgian artist Xavier Mary uses industrial design equipment to create large-scale sculptures. He employs familiar and everyday objects such as gray Euronorm boxes, the same that travelers at airports use to hold their laptops, phones, belts, and keys for X-ray scans. In this exhibition, the boxes are arranged to form the word SPECIFIC, under which fluorescent tubes create the word PATTERNS. Mary also presents an installation with trampoline netting stretched between scaffolding elements in the two exhibition spaces, as well as sculptures made of corrugated sheet metal––used for so many

  • picks January 07, 2009

    Peter Fischli and David Weiss

    The Swiss media magnate and art collector Michael Ringier commissions artists to design the annual reports of his company, Ringier AG, to address the boundary between the artistic and the factual—a fundamental interest of Peter Fischli and David Weiss, who were invited to make the 2007 report. The result was Sonne, Mond und Sterne (Sun, Moon, and Stars), 2008, the images for which are currently on display at this gallery. For almost one year, Fischli and Weiss collected and scanned advertisements from hundreds of periodicals. They then produced offset prints of these images on white paper, now

  • picks December 17, 2008

    “It's About Sculpture”

    Last year, when the artist Christopher Williams visited this gallery, which is located in a socialist-realist apartment building on Strausberg Platz in Berlin, he spontaneously remarked, “It’s about sculpture!” For his solo exhibition at the space over a year ago, Williams installed walls—some of which remain and play a key role in the current show. In a way, these structures are the centerpiece of an exhibition conceived as a commentary on the medium of sculpture. Heimo Zobernig’s black glazed-cardboard wall piece seamlessly fits into the show’s concept, as does his wooden plinth, painted white

  • picks December 03, 2008

    Gunter Reski

    The clichéd view of painters is that their work shouldn’t be too intellectually sophisticated. This characterization certainly doesn’t apply to Gunter Reski, even if his large, colorful paintings on paper and on the gallery walls possess a corny, almost moronic sense of humor. They may seem like one-dimensional image-and-word jokes, but they are also the expression of a subtle process directed at the precariousness of the medium itself. At a moment when the skillful object painting of the Leipzig School is ascendant, Reski’s precariousness is intriguing.

    The ten compositions on paper in this

  • picks October 07, 2008

    Kalin Lindena

    The principal element of German artist Kalin Lindena’s latest solo exhibition is a square stage decorated with rust-brown carpet and a black microphone stand installed at the center of the institution’s main space. Along the walls of the stage runs a black-stained wood and Styrofoam frieze whose four sides feature decorative motifs taken from Frank Lloyd Wright. (A critic of Neoclassicism, Wright advocated an architecture that blended organically with its environment.) Two long patchwork curtains made of coarse, warm fabrics frame a section of the wall, onto which is projected a video showing

  • picks July 03, 2008

    Michael Riedel

    The odors of rubber and gasoline fill the gallery space. It is the smell of an auto dealership—of cars in enclosed spaces, waiting to be released to the freedom of the street. The particular vehicle on view is a giant motorcycle: the brand-new BMW Enduro 1200 GS Adventure. Alongside this upper-class fetish, a small white triangular sculpture bears bits of printed text: cutouts from a technical brochure, perhaps. This fragmentary, deconstructed sculpture by Michael Riedel—and not the vehicle—is the “real” art. Though this piece pales in comparison, the motorcycle serves purely promotional purposes

  • diary June 13, 2008

    Hope Floats

    Arnhem, The Netherlands

    Last Sunday morning in Arnhem, the Netherlands, visiting journalists to the tenth edition of the Sonsbeek International Sculpture Exhibition witnessed an assortment of guilds gather in the backyard of an old milk factory. Dressed in uniforms (black pants and white shirts), the guild members resembled factory workers about to start their day on the assembly line. But their efforts were in service to not industry but art. Curator Anna Tilroe had asked Arnhem citizens to participate in the show by carrying works made by the twenty-eight included artists in a preopening “procession,” perhaps as a

  • diary May 07, 2008

    Sexy Back

    Berlin

    Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, has described his city as “poor but sexy.” Cheap, safe, and social, Berlin offers haven to all kinds of creative freelancers. Although it may be laid-back, however, it is not particularly cosmopolitan. Thus the annual Berlin Gallery Weekend, initiated in 2005 by a number of established Berlin galleries as an attempt to glamorize and internationalize the local art world, has in the past seemed more hopeful than realistic.

    This year’s edition opened last Thursday with a VIP tour of the private homes of select dealers. Collectors and journalists were driven through

  • picks April 29, 2008

    Peggy Buth

    A large rectilinear royal-red carpet, about half an inch thick, hangs on the wall. Its bright, straight, furrowed seams are hand-cut in a pattern that appears geometric, even Constructivist; indeed, the whole work could be an allusion to geometric abstract painting. Yet the use of red carpet, a symbol of nobility, reminds viewers of social issues. In earlier works, Peggy Buth cut similar carpets into long, thin strips that were then arranged on the floor. A symbol of hierarchy, then, is cut up and generally disordered, while retaining something of its normal appearance and forms (the regular

  • diary April 24, 2008

    Hollywood and Rhine

    Cologne

    Given that Art Cologne, founded in 1967 as the world’s first contemporary art fair, was, due to lack of interest from international dealers and collectors, more or less declared dead two months ago, it was a welcome surprise last weekend to find the city on the Rhine living up to its avant-garde reputation. The week’s first event to properly mix jet-setters with laid-back Rhineland bourgeoisie was a ceremony the Monday before last at the Museum Ludwig honoring Peter Doig, winner of this year’s Wolfgang Hahn Prize. Doig, ever gracious, mentioned in his speech how proud he was to receive the

  • picks April 03, 2008

    Thomas Judin

    An erstwhile student of Michael Krebber and Willem De Rooij, Thomas Judin makes work influenced by their critical, self-reflexive approaches to painting and video art, employing various media in his experimental photographs. In this exhibition, Judin subjects a selection of Artforum’s older issues to a perfect “revision”—he delves into his found material, reshapes it, and creates new relationships and reactions among the resulting array of images. One work consists of folded and collaged pages, bringing together black and white stripes from an ad for Vanessa Beecroft’s 2004 exhibition at the

  • picks March 19, 2008

    Sergej Jensen

    Sergej Jensen’s works consist of stretched textiles that are sometimes covered with various liquids or paint. But rather than using the fabrics’ materiality as the carrier of meaning, he instead works directly with their patterns and colors. This technique allows him to fit within contradictory traditions, and artists as diverse as Blinky Palermo and Lucio Fontana come to mind when viewing his works. Jensen’s materials—fragments of fine and coarse cloth of all sorts—have cracks and holes; they are variously dirty and in different stages of decay. They physically contradict the norms of art

  • picks February 20, 2008

    Stephen Willats

    This exhibition consists entirely of conceptual drawings produced by English artist Stephen Willats between 1983 and 2007. They are not project sketches for the installations and social interventions for which he has been known since the late 1960s but, rather, are discrete artworks. The “Conceptual Towers,” 1984–2003, are drawings of residential towers that are shaped like the eccentrically designed flower vases Willats collects. He once remarked that certain architects build houses as design objects and not as urban spaces for communication or living, and that these structures are then inhabited

  • picks February 08, 2008

    Dennis Loesch

    Dennis Loesch was born in Salzburg, Austria, in 1979 and studied at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. For seven years, he has been producing copies of the life around him by arranging evening screenings of “filmed films” (films of artists’ films) and “clubbed clubs” (restaged club nights of the past). Loesch’s current exhibition, “numerous,” is completely self-referential and—as a negation of the concrete—pure Matrix. Using Photoshop, the artist has developed a “digital brushstroke” from the letters of his name. Multiplied and variously arranged, this stroke yields black shapes and numbers that

  • picks November 30, 2007

    Heimo Zobernig

    In his latest solo exhibition, Vienna-based artist Heimo Zobernig employs a droll theatricality to stage some of the more prominent structural oppositions organizing our historical narratives. Visible through the gallery’s immense street-facing windows are three white, unclothed dummies; two of them, one male and one female, are enclosed within empty black circular shelves. Also on display are two smaller shelves and a third (male) figure, which watches over the scene like a guard. Hanging from opposite walls, two square canvases—one painted in black and the other in white—complete the mise-en-scène.

  • picks November 26, 2007

    Seth Price

    New York–based artist Seth Price developed the works in his exhibition “Tricks” from found Internet photographs of people carrying out everyday activities like eating, drinking, writing, and shaking hands. Using Photoshop, he removed the figures and blew up the negative spaces, which he then cut out of wood veneer. The results are amorphous grained forms with flat, shining surfaces, which the viewer initially takes to represent abstract landscapes. It is only on closer observation that one sees the figures and actions. In a smaller, more portable investigation of the same subject, the forms have