Sylwia Serafinowicz

  • Taus Makhacheva

    The title of Taus Makhacheva’s exhibition “BaidÀ” is a pun: Without the accent on the A, the word refers to a name for a cheap boat used by poachers fishing in the Caspian Sea for beluga (European sturgeon), but with the accent added, it becomes Russian slang for a nonsensical or unbelievable story. The fish, an endangered species, remains the source of two treasured products: caviar and isinglass. (The latter, made from the fish’s swim bladder, is used to consolidate paint and is highly valued by art conservators.) Because of the sturgeon’s protected status, fishing for it is not only precarious

  • Petra Ferlancová and Nicolás Lamas

    Taking its title from a phrase coined by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in 1987, the exhibition “Becoming Animal” comprised two solo presentations by Petra Feriancová and Nicolás Lamas. Deleuze and Guattari’s idea saw the self as fluid and continually changing under the influence of relationships with fellow living beings, including animals; it countered a humanist perspective that was occasionally used to justify a colonial, aggressive approach to nature.

    Occupying a room and the front window of the gallery, Feriancová’s interpretation of “becoming animal” focused on the zoological terms

  • Marie Orensanz

    Marie Orensanz featured recently in “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985,”a major traveling exhibition organized by the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Her first solo show in London focused on a selection of her works made between 1974 and 2015. When I visited the exhibition, it was a sunny early-spring morning. The paper and marble pieces, exhibited in a bright space, seemed all white, some of them with hints of light blue and green, at first difficult to fully perceive. These minimal interventions required my eyes to adjust and focus. Gradually, the details became visible: lines, single

  • Simon Roberts

    In 2007, Simon Roberts began his series “We English” by training his four-by-five camera on the English landscape and its inhabitants for the first time. Roberts spent several months in a mobile home, traveling across the country to investigate the relationship between the scenery, leisure activities, and English identity. He saw all three as complementary. As he revealed in a talk at Photofusion Photography Centre in London in 2014, his experience of England was informed by his own family trips and holiday activities in the open air, and by the long tradition of British portraiture set in

  • Jake and Dinos Chapman

    Jake and Dinos Chapman’s solo show “The Disasters of Everyday Life” channeled modern anxiety; the artists, known for their longtime dedication to the issues of organized violence, addressed the contemporary and historic imagery of terror. The exhibition consisted of a trio of works based on actual sets of Francisco Goya’s “Disasters of War” etchings (first published in 1863), as well as seven bronze sculptures of vests adorned with explosives: Life and Death Vests I–VII, 2017.

    In the series of etchings, Goya—a prominent figure in the Chapman brothers’ artistic output (they have bought six

  • Monira Al Qadiri

    Monira Al Qadiri’s playful and engaging show “The Craft” was packed to the brim with conspiracy theory–like clues and references. The first of two rooms was almost completely dark; in the gloom, one made out only a replica of a hamburger spinning over a tall plinth—a piece titled The End (all works 2017). But there was a soundtrack: a male voice reciting a passage about an unspecified genre of architecture that, although supposedly attempting to respond to its terrain and atmospheric conditions, failed to blend into its context. This architecture’s innovative forms made it look like something

  • Rachel Pimm

    Rachel Pimm roots her practice in an awareness that we exist in the age of the Anthropocene—the new geological epoch, so named in the 1980s by ecologist and biologist Eugene F. Stoermer—in which human activity has become the most significant force affecting geological and atmospheric systems. Pimm’s work often deals with the relationship between nature and human-made products, and for this show, “Resistant Materials,” she focused on the curved tiles desigwned and produced since 2010 by the Netherlands-based company DTile.

    On its website, the company makes an unsettling claim: “If it

  • “Queer British Art 1861–1967”

    The idea of encapsulating a nation’s history of queer art in a single show could easily have led to a neckbreaking curatorial endeavor going awry. What makes art queer or otherwise anyway? And how can one tell what is queer and what isn’t when examining a period in which socially unacceptable desires often had to be disguised, lest criminal prosecution follow? The press release for “Queer British Art 1861–1967,” curated by Clare Barlow, explains that the word queer was meant to express the “full diversity of sexualities and gender identities represented in the show.” Astonishingly, the show

  • Sorel Etrog

    Born in the small Romanian city of Ias¸i in 1933, Sorel Etrog rose to fame in his adoptive country of Canada, though he remains too little known abroad. To some audiences there, he is above all the author of somewhat cheeky public sculptures; to others, the director of the critically acclaimed experimental film Spiral, 1974, which led to a collaboration with Marshall McLuhan on the 1987 book Images from the Film Spiral. But no matter from what angle Etrog’s life and career are examined, they reveal the artist’s remarkable tenacity. Having survived the Holocaust, Etrog moved with his family to

  • Hal Fischer

    A Salesman, 1979/2017, the central work that took up the entire back wall of the gallery in Hal Fischer’s exhibition “Gay Semiotics,” was originally installed as a billboard at the gateway to San Francisco’s Castro district, famously the center of gay pride activism in the 1960s and 1970s. Commissioned as part of a billboard exhibition organized by the Eyes and Ears Foundation and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, it shows a naked man on a bed sporting a moustache. He is lying on one side, in white sheets, in a pose that recalls such iconic female nudes as Manet’s Olympia, 1863.

  • Mahmoud Bakhshi

    Mordad, the fifth month of the Iranian calendar, is the hottest time of year in the country. As it happens, both the coup d’état of 1953 and the start of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 occurred on the twenty-eighth of Mordad, or August 19, according to the Gregorian calendar. Mahmoud Bakhshi’s gallery-filling installation The Unity of Time and Place, 2017, evoked this chronological overlap and a place central to these events: Abadan, an oil-producing city in southwestern Iran.

    The artist approaches his story about revolutions by way of Gavaznha (The Deer, 1974), a film directed by Masoud Kimiai.

  • Matt Golden

    The central work in Matt Golden’s solo show “Bisons” was He Who Eats the Durian Smells of Durian, 2016, a piece consisting of twenty full-page photographs as originally printed in the London-based magazines Wonderland and Rollacoaster. Torn out from the publications and arranged under a single sheet of Plexiglas, they depict the distant travels of Juan Carlode, the fictional musician who is Golden’s alter ego. This composition of images was attached to a wooden stage, turned upright, that was taken from the Russian Club, a former bar and pool hall on nearby Kingsland Road, in the hip London

  • Edward Krasiński

    The oeuvre of Edward Krasiński (1925–2004), one of the most creative minds of the past century, is far from unfamiliar to me. Krasiński’s Warsaw apartment/studio was opened to the public in 2007 as the Avant-Garde Institute and quickly became a popular stop for art professionals visiting the city. His work was introduced to broader audiences in Poland through a retrospective at the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art in Kraków in 2008. Having visited both, I did not expect to find many surprises in Liverpool. Yet the exhibition, curated by Kasia Redzisz and Stephanie Straine, did amaze

  • Robert Mapplethorpe

    Alison Jacques has represented the estate of Robert Mapplethorpe in the UK since 1999 and has showcased his work many times, often with the help of guest curators who either played an important role in the artist’s life or were influenced by his photographs. Among them was model David Croland, Mapplethorpe’s first long-term boyfriend, who curated “Robert Mapplethorpe: Fashion Show” in 2013. Croland’s portrait, enlarged to more than eleven feet high, welcomed visitors to this recent show, curated by another notorious photographer, eighteen years Mapplethorpe’s junior, Juergen Teller.


  • Cristóbal Gracia

    Cristóbal Gracia was hailed by the press as one of the “most rewarding discoveries” of the 2016 Gallery Weekend Mexico. This was in response to his takeover of gallery Cuarto de Máquinas’s newly opened space with the solo show “Aquatania: Parte I,” curated by Inbal Miller and Edgar Alejandro Hernández. Immediately striking, as one entered the first of the two rooms, was the color of the walls––a beautiful, floral shade of pink, which, as it turned out, matched the hue decorating the interior of the Hotel Los Flamingos in Acapulco, the long-term residence of Johnny Weissmuller, the actor and

  • Raphael Albert

    The bikini is in decline, announced the British press in the summer of 2016. This factoid was supposedly linked to the rise of a new standard of female beauty set by the leotard-sporting American Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles. But the image of a fit, strong black female body as a standard of beauty is nothing new, as “Raphael Albert: Miss Black & Beautiful,” curated by Renée Mussai, reminded me. Consider Albert’s 1981 portrait Miss Grenada Theresa Hopkins #1, London, one of the few color photographs in the show. It depicts the model with her lips painted red, dressed in a one-piece bathing

  • Reza Aramesh

    Reza Aramesh uses fine craftsmanship to engage with such pressing issues as the sublimation of violence by contemporary media. In his recent exhibition “At 11:57 am Wednesday 23 October 2013,” he presented photographs, marble heads, and vases that had been handmade following ancient Greek methods, then fired in a kiln in Iran. The show’s title refers to the precise time of the British tabloid the Daily Mail’s publication online of an article reporting a beheading, believed to be an honor killing, that took place in Afghanistan. A couple who were having a love affair were reportedly kidnapped,

  • picks October 27, 2016

    Indrė Šerpytytė

    Indrė Šerpytytė’s current body of work here is made up of photocollages and sculptures, exhibited on the gallery’s ground floor and in its basement, respectively. Her “Pedestal” collages (all works cited, 2016) depict statues of Lenin and Stalin in Lithuania’s Grūtas Park, a sculpture garden filled with decrepit Soviet-era monuments. Šerpytytė’s photographs of these dead symbols offer up an uncanny beauty, as we try making sense of these proud and pompous figures standing against backdrops that are lush and verdant. The artist juxtaposes her color photographs with archival black-and-white images

  • picks September 06, 2016

    El Hadji Sy

    The first show in Poland dedicated to El Hadji Sy, the Senegalese artist and activist, focuses on the performative and socially engaged side of his practice. Some of the works also familiarize us with artist’s interest in the intersection of spirituality and nature, for instance, the painting Vegetal Ancestry, 2013, in which the lips and neck of a man’s profile become leafy plants. On display is a rich repertoire of sculptures, paintings, and works on jute, some of them realized during artist’s residency at this venue. Many pieces remain linked to the documentation of performances in which they