Sean O’Toole

  • Hollis Frampton, XIV. ROSE (Rosa damascena), 1982, Ektacolor photograph, 20 x 16".
    picks November 20, 2015

    Hollis Frampton

    This exhibition of Hollis Frampton’s last major series of photographs, “ADSVMVS ABSVMVS,” 1982, an austere portfolio of fourteen color pictures of desiccated animal and plant remains, represents a belated debut of sorts for the artist. Frampton, a creative polymath whose achievements in film tend to overshadow his writing and photography, has never been the subject of a solo exhibition in New York. “I felt he was someone who was in but uniquely apart from the working art world,” wrote his friend Michael Snow in 1984, shortly after Frampton’s death. Snow, who famously narrated Frampton’s

  • Serge Alain Nitegeka, Fragile Cargo XIX, 2015, paint on wood, 57 x 27 1/2 x 20".
    picks November 03, 2015

    Serge Alain Nitegeka

    The foundations for abstract painting and sculpture in South Africa were laid in the prosperous postwar years, when local artists who trained in Europe jettisoned staid, realist idioms. Despite the emphasis often placed on Johannesburg-based artist Serge Alain Nitegeka’s status as a refugee from Burundi and on how his adolescent passage to South Africa via Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya has shaped his practice, the twenty hard-edge paintings on wood panels and six boxy timber sculptures in his exhibition “Black Passage” are also typical of the European-style abstraction that

  • Jodi Bieber, Marie, 2008, digital print in archival pigment inks on paper, 44 x 53".
    picks October 23, 2015

    Jodi Bieber

    There are nearly a hundred photographs stemming from eight projects in South African photographer Jodi Bieber’s midcareer survey, “Between Darkness and Light,” many of them portraits. They include gritty documentary photographs in black and white of young children with plastic guns or adolescents with real ones from the roaming study of marginality in her homeland, Between Dogs and Wolves: Growing Up with South Africa, which includes photographs from 1994 to 2004. The portraits of gun-toting youths recall Mary Ellen Mark’s documentary work, an affinity that’s reiterated in Bieber’s series “Las

  • View of “Kemang wa Lehulere,” 2015.
    picks August 25, 2015

    Kemang wa Lehulere

    Kemang wa Lehulere’s latest show is composed of a trio of installations, each devoted to a pioneering black South African modernist. The most ambitious work details Lehulere’s discovery that his aunt, in her youth, had visited expressionist painter Gladys Mgudlandlu’s home and found its walls covered with evocative murals. Lehulere, whose practice includes archaeological digging performances and site-specific chalk wall drawings with a durational lifespan, decided to uncover these murals, which, it turned out, are hidden beneath seven coats of domestic paint and two layers of plaster. The story

  • Graeme Williams, untitled, 2013.
    picks August 24, 2015

    Graeme Williams

    Johannesburg, a city founded on a gold rush in 1886, has prompted a great deal of handwringing amongst writers about its place in the world, and indeed Africa, since the fall of apartheid. By contrast, photographers, especially city residents like Graeme Williams, have been less grandiloquent, accepting its roughshod visual character and unstable temperament as a kind of truth. His earlier black-and-white work combined the feral tradition of Gary Winogrand’s street photography with the more impressionistic urban documentary of David Goldblatt, also a Johannesburg resident and Williams’s mentor,

  • Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Genesis, 2013, King James Bible, inkjet print, brass pins, 57 x 44 x 2".
    picks April 02, 2015

    Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

    Published in 2013 and styled after Bertolt Brecht’s personal bible, which he annotated and illustrated with photographs, Holy Bible is Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin’s tenth publication together. While physically resembling the King James Version, two divergent elements set it apart from the Church of England’s translation of this Christian text. For one, various passages have been underlined in red, and the book is also collaged with cryptic photos, all drawn from the London-based Archive of Modern Conflict, depicting dancing, sex, conflicts, murder, suicide, magic tricks, Nazi propaganda,

  • picks February 05, 2015

    Igshaan Adams

    Last year Igshaan Adams showed a recording of his performance Please Remember II, 2013, in which the artist lies prone on a green burial cloth while his father performs an Islamic funeral ritual, at the Paul Klee Center’s annual Summer Academy in Bern, Switzerland. Appearing again in this new exhibition, titled “Parda,” after the veil prescribed by Sharia law for women, the green cloth printed with yellow Koranic verses, Plate 7, 2014, is now embroidered with one of psychotherapist Hermann Rorschach’s psycho-diagnostic inkblots, which Adams researched before going to Bern. Part of his 2014

  • Kevin Atkinson, Thinking, Feeling, Head, Heart, c.1976, oil on canvas, 5’ 6” x 5’ 6”.
    picks January 20, 2015

    “Thinking, Feeling, Head, Heart”

    The history of painterly abstraction in South Africa remains atomized and fragmentary in part because of lingering animosities about its bland rehearsal of an imported style and, decisively perhaps, its inability to visualize the struggle against apartheid, which prompted curators and publishers to bypass the abstract in favor of social-realist and agitprop work. This exhibition, rather than recapitulating history, offers a selective survey of this overlooked genre and draws predominantly from the holdings of the New Church Museum. Guest curator Marilyn Martin named this show after a billowing