Sherman Sam

  • Merlin James, Herbin (left panel), 1998–2008, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 20''.
    picks February 29, 2016

    Merlin James

    Merlin James sometimes refers to his activity as “easel painting,” and it makes sense, considering the intimate scale and historic subject matter he usually works with. This survey, which covers over three decades of production and contains thirty-one paintings, twenty-one drawings, and fifty-four sculptures, mostly of model buildings displayed in vitrines, offers a succinct view of the Welshman’s projects. It is rare that these tiny sculptures, normally found within his paintings and constructed from leftover wood fragments, get exhibited.

    James’s paintings are predominately landscapes in format

  • View of “B. Wurtz,” 2015–16. From left: Untitled (Autobiographical Sculpture), 1972; Untitled (Lampshade), 1986; Untitled, 2012. Photo: John McKenzie.

    B. Wurtz

    KNOW THYSELF, reads a 1992 B. Wurtz assemblage, Untitled (sock piece #7). The Delphic maxim is scrawled on a piece of canvas flanked by a pair of mauve tube socks. Is the artist talking to us? Or to the artwork itself? It might well be a question of the work’s own self-examination, for this quality is evident throughout the more than three hundred pieces—eighty-two objects, eight early videos, and 216 paintings on the bottoms of aluminum pans—on view in this first B. Wurtz retrospective, “Selected Works: 1970–2015,” curated by BALTIC chief curator Laurence Sillars.

    Wurtz says that he

  • The Singapore National Gallery of Art.
    diary January 30, 2016

    National Treasure

    AFTER A DECADE OF GESTATION, with numerous architectural ebbs and flows, Singapore’s own National Gallery of Art has finally arrived. Created out of two colonial-era architectural icons, the City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, and connected by a glass roof covered with water and seemingly held up by a large central pillar, the museum is the work of the Singapore-based architect Jean Francois Milou of Studio Milou. Running $378 million and offering some 700,000 square feet of floor space to showcase Singaporean and Southeast Asian art, one couldn’t have planned a more auspicious occasion. As

  • Mark Flood, Colonial Mirror, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 80 × 60".

    Mark Flood

    In certain societies, cannibals ate their opponents to acquire knowledge. Maybe that’s why one of Mark Flood’s more notorious paintings is emblazoned with the phrase EAT HUMAN FLESH. Although none of the Texan’s thirteen recent works in his second London show, “American Buffet Upgrade,” offers such explicit statements as his eponymous 1989 painting, his endeavor still reeks of a kind of cannibalism. The exhibition included three types of paintings, mainly his well-known “lace paintings” and a series based on digital images; there was also a single triptych of “aged paintings,” which display

  • Michelle Grabner, Untitled [cadmium red deep/green], 2015, oil, gesso, burlap, 24 x 48".
    picks December 15, 2015

    Michelle Grabner

    For over twenty years, Michelle Grabner has taken the vernacular patterns of domesticity as a departure point for the creation of abstract paintings. For “Gingham,” her latest exhibition, the artist transmogrifies this common, happy-looking, and picnic-ready fabric into thickly painted works on rough burlap.

    From a distance, Untitled [cadmium red deep/green], 2015, looks like a crisscross of red stripes on a white ground. Up close, it reveals itself actually to be made up of pink, red, and white squares over a green ground, the red and pink squares butting against each other in synchronous harmony.

  • Phoebe Unwin, Bunch, 2015, India ink on acrylic sized canvas, 73 x 87".
    picks December 07, 2015

    Phoebe Unwin

    Unlike Phoebe Unwin’s previous exhibitions, where mostly large, colorful paintings utilized a number approaches to attack a wide range of subjects, this comparatively restrained show of seventeen new works, “Distant People and Self-Soothing Objects,” only consists of black-and-white pictures made with airbrushed India ink on canvas. This time, Unwin’s works feel more contemplative, possessing a calming sense of reverie.

    For this exhibition, Unwin places the body in nature. Leaning Figure on Soft Ground, 2015, is a field of large, weedy flowers, the titular figure seemingly ghosted out of the

  • Mario Merz, Pittore in Africa (Painter in Africa), 1983, neon, 193 x 6".
    picks December 03, 2015

    Mario Merz

    “Numbers are prehistoric,” a small, thoughtful first survey of Mario Merz in Greece—curated by Paolo Colombo, presented by NEON—begins with Lumaca, 1970, a video by Gerry Schum of Merz drawing a spiral emanating from a snail, expanding the line of its shell into real space/time. This piece, installed on a table with bundles of branches behind it, forms part of the installation Foresta con video sul sentiero, (Forest with video on a path) 1995. Together they illustrate the notion of the progressive Fibonacci sequence (a mathematical theory that resembles many growth patterns in nature), an idea

  • Ella Kruglyanskaya, White Columns, 2015, oil on linen, 90 × 72".

    Ella Kruglyanskaya

    Ella Kruglyanskaya wants to be a great painter, so she says, not “a good woman artist.” Although her paintings are largely populated by women and her 2012 exhibition at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise was called “Women! Painting! Women!,” her subjects may be less important and less unusual than the style in which they are conveyed. “I arrived at my current practice by a method of elimination,” the Latvian-born, New York–based artist says. “Gradually I figured out things that I was not interested in. The women came from drawing from the imagination, not from life.”

    Her words drawing and imagination are

  • Ellen Gronemeyer, Liebe Liese (Dear Liese), 2015, oil on canvas, 62 1/2 × 47 1/4".

    Ellen Gronemeyer

    Keine Minute Ruhe” (Not a Moment’s Rest) was the title of Ellen Gronemeyer’s recent solo exhibition, and it served as an apt description of any encounter with her paintings. Reminiscent in style of both James Ensor and Jean Dubuffet, the twelve richly encrusted figurative paintings in this show, with a predominantly black palette, possessed a cloying charm.

    For example, Liebe Liese (Dear Liese; all works 2015) one of the larger pieces, shows two roundheaded, porcelain-faced children, seated with their arms bent around their legs; depicted in a cartoonlike manner, they fit snugly into the picture

  • Moyra Davey, Dr. Y., Dr. Y., 2014, 15 digital C-prints, tape, labels, postage, ink, 60 × 54".
    picks October 13, 2015

    Moyra Davey

    Moyra Davey employs the postal service as a vehicle for artistic production, while literature acts as a point of departure for her videos. The resulting images, which have been mailed by Davey to the gallery, include photography, collage, diary, and action. Davey subverts the image-capturing quality of the photograph by emphasizing its nature as object. The process produces folded, marked, franked, flattened, and creased results. Covered in pieces of colored tape that create abstract patterns, these works, collectively titled Newspaper, Coffee, 2015, are assembled in groups: There are dogs,

  • View of “Nancy Shaver,” 2015.
    picks October 07, 2015

    Nancy Shaver

    Nancy Shaver uses and reorganizes the material chaos of our visually saturated everyday. As an assemblage artist, she weaves together found patterns and refashions them into eclectic juxtapositions of disorderly order. A typical Shaver form consists of a grid of boxy canvases, usually joined together two deep into a larger block, and covered with different patterned fabrics upon which are also collaged clothes and pieces of drawings. On display here is an early example, Cigar Boxes, 1990, consisting of various earthy brown and yellow fabrics over a stack of rectangular blocks on a grid of cubes,