Todd Meyers

  • picks May 02, 2019

    Elena Dorfman

    “Still Lovers and Transmutations” brings together two series by Elena Dorfman made more than a decade apart. “Still Lovers,” 1999–2004, documents the lives of realistic sex dolls and their human companions through scenes of intimacy and domesticity, producing wholly un-ironic, if not uncanny, records of love between men and women and their synthetic partners. “Transmutations,” 2016–18, consists of large-format photographs of mountains, which Dorfman has gilded with precious metals, as well as large cotton-and-wool Jacquard tapestries of similar images, through which the artist has woven metallic

  • picks March 01, 2019

    Leelee Chan

    Leelee Chan describes her small sculptures as the broken things in her life, artifacts of the everyday, that she recomposes and reanimates into totems, which possess cosmologies all their own. Just beyond the entrance to “Core Sample” are six works made with materials that have been discarded or overlooked. A fractured ceramic teapot lid, Styrofoam, and some dabs of pink pigment make up Catcher, 2015–17, while Squeezer #2, 2018, consists of a dish sponge, a broken hair clip, and cast concrete that all seem to balance precariously, impossibly, on a vacuum cleaner part. Navel, 2018, constructed

  • picks February 06, 2019

    XU Jin

    “Everything Has a Soul” is not a theme but a spell that XU Jin has recited over the thirteen paintings in this exhibition. The silhouette of a man with a crow on his shoulder is visible in the foreground of The Last of Sunset, 2017, surrounded by skulls and carrion, and a dripping white sky on the verge of implosion. It’s a landscape, yes, but where? Or when?

    XU is no newcomer—his career as an artist began in the mid-1970s as the Cultural Revolution was coming to an end. The playful figural elements of his earlier paintings are now gone, and his work is relentlessly earnest, with no trace of

  • picks September 18, 2018

    “Growth”

    Life spills forth most abundantly in a stream of debris and organisms imperceptible to the human eye. Their often unconsidered presence is fully visible in this group exhibition, which opens with two paintings focused on life at its tiniest. Ouma’s series “Phylogenetic Tree,” 2017–, and Marc Standing’s “Chasms,” 2018, depict microscopic growth through flourishing cartoon amoebas and seething viral blooms. Monika Lin’s installation River of Plastic, 2015–18, uses inorganic materials to show the emergence of a new ecology of waste and also serves as the thematic anchor of the exhibition. In this

  • picks November 07, 2017

    “Scraggly Beard Grandpa”

    The titular grandpa is missing from the works gathered in this group show of twelve artists who spent time working at the art collective and gallery space PRACTICE in New York from 2015 to 2016. Curated by PRACTICE founders Wang Xu and Cici Wu, the show presents different tensions around the idea of folding the familiar into the foreign in daily life abroad, wherever abroad happens to be.

    The sense of shadowy interiority of Irini Miga’s installation Landscape for a Thought (all works cited, 2017), a ceramic cone placed in a tiny triangle cut into the wall, is amplified by João Vasco Paiva’s The

  • picks October 17, 2017

    Daniel Spoerri

    Over the past fifty years or so, Daniel Spoerri has buried tiny clues about his aesthetic commitments in the scattered miscellanea of his work. But it would be a mistake to think that assemblages such as Untitled, 3 octobre 2015, 2015, from the series “Bilder tollwut” (Mad Paintings), 2015––a mosaic of cheap picture frames filled with images of kittens and cowboys, faded family portraits, reproductions of religious art and charming folk-art paintings, a rubber horse head and a porcelain tea set suspended flat against this canvas of bric-a-brac––are simply puzzles to be solved. Spoerri’s works

  • picks May 02, 2017

    Lu Song

    Eleven paintings of tangled roots and palm fronds inaugurate the gallery’s new space in West Bund, Shanghai. This is Lu Song’s heart of darkness. In each of these works secrets and threats are concealed, and in the murky spaces separating bursts of vibrant color and wild foliage, something ominous dwells. Through its scale and rich contrasts of pinks and browns (the play of shadow and light at dusk? the mix of dirt and flesh of an unearthed body?), Oleander Pond, 2016, announces itself as the central painting in the exhibition. Lu’s world is a mangrove swamp or ancient forest––a place that

  • picks March 08, 2017

    “Energy Field”

    In “Energy Plan for the Western Man,” 1979, Joseph Beuys spoke of the “chemical reactions, fermentation, color changes, decay, [and] drying up” that characterize his work. “Energy Field,” a transmedia exhibition at MOCA Shanghai, tests Beuys’s method in explicit and surprising ways. Could the curator have anticipated, for example, that Han Xia’s ASCII Mirror, 2015, a large projection of cascading green Matrix-like open code, would be complemented by the bright Mac OS X desktop screen appearing on the opposite wall, museum staff valiantly attempting to reboot the computer?

    There is nothing sterile

  • picks December 08, 2016

    Ni Jun

    Ni Jun’s “Deep Blue Sea” opts for bilgewater over Condé Nast vistas. The exhibition is filled with mostly small, nautically themed paintings lashed to the gallery’s pillars with twine and wire. A few paintings are scattered randomly atop large stock photos of sea vessels and waterways that cover every wall. The space is awash in dark blues that seem painted, perhaps, from the perspective of a seafarer, a castaway, or maybe even a drowning victim. In part, Jun seeks to redress the absenting of the sea from Chinese painting, as exhibition texts suggest, not so much to fill a void but to return to

  • picks September 29, 2016

    “Overpop”

    “Overpop” is a curatorial collaboration between Jeffrey Deitch and Karen Smith featuring works from seventeen artists who define a “new contemporary aesthetic” (as Deitch calls it) across two distinctive artmaking contexts. The curators describe this as a dialogue. Viewing it feels like eavesdropping—we gaze longingly at the cool Chinese and American kids sitting together in the lunchroom; we feed on their cues. The show is an arousing curatorial vision filled with beauty and gall that keeps its viewers at an admiring distance.

    A few artists make “Overpop” exceptional. Ian Cheng’s video projection

  • picks September 24, 2016

    Jiang Pengyi

    A simple vertical line is the motif that ties together the pieces of Jiang Pengyi’s parallel series “Grace” and “Trace,” both 2014–16. The latter, housed in one building of this venue, comprises thirty-six small Polaroid and emulsion prints—some are lush, and others are tiny seas of washed-out pinks and blues, soft and comforting in the way only instant film can be. A white line either floats within or bifurcates each piece, or, in the case of his emulsion lift prints, sheets of color hover like fabric or wrinkled flesh around the line of a pin protruding from the paper. “Trace” is control and

  • slant August 12, 2016

    Class Struggle

    THIS YEAR I WENT TO SUMMER SCHOOL. For an hour or so each day I escaped the business of life to indulge in the gleeful asceticism of online education. I let waves of learned, prerecorded prose wash over me. I lurked; I listened. My professor was Werner Herzog and this was his Master Class on filmmaking, and I along with several hundred fellow students––his “soldiers of cinema”––followed twenty-six lessons that taught us that nothing is what it seems.

    Herzog offered wisdom as if reading from a manifesto only half finished in his mind. His style was confessional and earnest. He was pragmatic (“