Travis Jeppesen

  • picks November 18, 2015

    Peter Stauss

    Peter Stauss’s latest exhibition features a recurring figure he calls the Dutch Master, which, with his wide-brimmed hat, may or may not be a reference to Vincent van Gogh. This is less an art-historical gag, though, than a vehicle with which the artist might move through the static formats of painting and sculpture, positing the body as an ever-morphing entity that is reinvented each time it finds itself being depicted. In Dutch Master (Menu) (all works cited, 2015), one of the four large-scale oil paintings on plywood displayed here, parts of the artist-figure’s body have been blasted apart

  • picks November 05, 2015

    Jia

    One of Mao Zedong’s more insidious achievements in mainland China was the Chinese character simplification program. With the supposed intent of improving literacy, the program reduced the number of strokes deployed in writing characters, effectively neutering the written language’s pictographic and ideographic content. A lesser known component of the initiative was the elimination of nearly two thirds of all Chinese characters from official use. Naturally, this was also done for ideological purposes; it becomes quite difficult to voice certain thoughts that might be unpleasant to the ears of

  • picks November 02, 2015

    Joan Miró

    This exhibition is an enriching supplement to the major retrospective currently on view at the Kunsthaus Zürich, offering a glimpse of a lesser-known Joan Miró with works spanning each decade of the artist’s career. While the Kunsthaus show provides a crowd-pleasing survey of paintings in his canonical style, this one goes deeper in proving just how multifaceted Miró was as an artist.

    The sheer range of media here rouses us to the depth of the artist’s formal curiosity, with examples of his work in sculpture, drawing, and mixed-media collage, as well as textile-based assemblages that Miró called

  • picks October 19, 2015

    “Site, Specific, Objects”

    Brazil and Croatia might be continents apart, but they share a strong history of Concretism. This exhibition brings together three artists rooted in these locales working in the same tradition, each with a distinctive approach to abstraction. Goran Petercol is the most gestural of the bunch: His Reaches and Half of Interspace (all works cited, 2015), for instance, is a large charcoal drawing consisting of black horizontal and vertical lines intersecting to form both upper- and lower-case T shapes, eventually concluding with a rendering of a large phallic crayon at the right end. His Halves of

  • picks October 08, 2015

    Nicole Eisenman

    The Kiss might represent one of those unattainable canonical ideals in art history, thanks to Rodin, but that doesn’t stop the likes of Nicole Eisenman from practicing her own French. (Sorry.) Although there are lots of works in her exhibition here, Le Kiss Deux (all works cited, 2015) is the indomitable highlight, showcasing Eisenman’s great agility with form. The two kissers in profile roughly form a heart, though in such a subtle way that you have to step back and look at it for a while before it comes to you. On the right, the kisser—the genders of both are indeterminate—has their eye closed,

  • picks October 02, 2015

    Maria Loizidou

    The ancient burial grounds of Kerameikos are one of the most fascinating places in all of Athens. The trees there have known so much in their time that they’re like God. It’s not just ruins; this old cemetery is very much alive. Thousands of colonies of ants swarm on the ground, feasting on the fertile soil of dead centuries. Even an old turtle I watched moving intently across a path was following the daily route of the cynic philosopher Diogenes.

    But there’s nothing cynical about Maria Loizidou’s project “A Transfer,” 2015, elements of which one finds scattered throughout the museum and cemetery

  • picks October 02, 2015

    Michael Krebber

    Michael Krebber’s latest paintings are all gesturo-minimalism—little marks and dabs staining otherwise pristine canvases. At least the ones on the ground floor, the clear highlights of this exhibition, demonstrating the limits a painting can reach while still remaining a painting. MP-KREBM-00090 (all works 2015), is just a copper dash running down the right side of the canvas: a scar that will never heal. MP-KREBM-0089: pure rhythm and splotch. Two thick marine blue handles sit at center roughly equidistant from the sides of the canvas. There is a lighter blue dash in the upper right corner.

  • diary August 03, 2015

    On Garde

    IF IN BERLIN the days have a tendency to bleed into one another forming a sort of haze—a gray one, to be precise, punctuated with rare bursts of sunshine—then the fabric of the nights is most definitely a fuzz of whirling dance-floor lights, glitter, makeup, and bodies of every and any and no gender in various states of undress. Amid the noise, the excitement, the inner violence of our daily exercises in being and creating, it can be easy to forget that we are living among a bevy of talented creatures. Yo! Sissy, the city’s premiere queer music festival, became the first event ambitious enough

  • picks July 31, 2015

    “Fassbinder Now”

    Had he not bowed out of the party at the age of thirty-seven from the workaholism demanded by forty feature films in fifteen years, all fueled by a toxic combination of cocaine, booze, and Valium, the filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder would have turned seventy this year. Although Berlin was not his hometown—Fassbinder was born in the more conservative city of Munich, where he shot nearly all his films—he did transform one of the city’s canonical texts, Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, (1979–80) into celluloid magic with his fourteen-part adaptation for television. This summer has seen a

  • picks July 24, 2015

    “Passion: Fan Behavior and Art”

    Popular music and visual art have long been partners in a mutual admiration society, with so many examples of feedback and exchange that an exhibition on the theme of their overlap could be limitless. It is all the more interesting, then, to consider what has been bracketed for inclusion here. Hajnal Nemeth’s video Imagine War, 2014–15, presents a cover band doing hippie classics with the lyrics altered to endorse violence and terror rather than peace and love: “Here Comes the Gun,” “I’ll Be Your Terror,” and “Crime is on My Side.” Ming Wong excavates footage from David Bowie’s 1983 tour of Asia

  • picks July 23, 2015

    Minjung Kim

    The title of Minjung Kim’s solo exhibition, “The Light, the Shade, the Depth,” is indicative of the simple yet potent evocations that her ink-wash paintings on paper conjure. The clear highlights among those here are her renderings of mountains. Kim captures the essence of stillness in Mountain, 2012, one of the more masterful works, in which craggy formations emerge in the top half of the painting as smoky, ghostlike emanations that seem to blend into one another before becoming gradually denser as they move down the plane, eventually culminating in blackness. In a smaller painting from 2008,

  • picks July 23, 2015

    William Crawford

    With the requisite anomalous art brut backstory—a box of hundreds of his obsessive pornographic drawings found in an abandoned house, their creator untraceable, now suddenly being shown by the likes of David Zwirner—William Crawford seems poised to be anointed the newest contemporary Perv Poet of the Pencil. Sketching his fantasies on whatever paper surfaces he had at his disposal (some of which are the duty rosters of a California correctional facility, suggesting that the artist was likely imprisoned for a lengthy period), the resulting untitled works, all dated to the 1990s, represent a great

  • picks July 22, 2015

    “My Wife Does the Dishes, I Do the Revolution”

    Guy Debord’s famous slogan, Ne travaillez jamais (never work), is scrawled in Nicolás Guagnini’s painting Work No. 4, 2014, among a mishmash of intersecting T-lines and square shapes, all in varying shades of gray—an apt start to this David Rimanelli–curated extrapolation on the dick vibe that has historically, and some might say continuously, underscored so much modern painting. It is hard to be funny and critical at the same time, to get the balance just right, but this show is a rare example. Formalists will get their pickles tickled by the squares and dots bouncing off each other in paintings

  • picks July 17, 2015

    Sean Scully

    There is a soothing calm to Sean Scully’s way with color—his paintings glisten with a new-car sheen. This current exhibition, “Land Sea,” focuses on the painter’s output from the past seven years, with more of an emphasis on the sea than land—an apt choice considering the show’s location in Venice. It is easy to be persuaded, as well as delighted, by the sludgy brushwork of paintings like Blueland (all works cited, 2014), sexy in its stilled sloppiness, which ideally would have had its colors scooped up from the water of the Grand Canal, shimmering directly beneath the palazzo here. That is,

  • picks July 15, 2015

    Gustavo Pérez Monzón

    Gustavo Pérez Monzón is a somewhat mythic figure among Cuban artists. He officially stopped making art in the late 1980s before leaving Cuba for Mexico in the 1990s, opting to dedicate himself to teaching. This current retrospective in Havana thus brings meat to the myth, showcasing an extraordinarily prolific career to a new generation. The bulk of the works on display, dated between 1979 and 1980, were executed on cardboard and are weighted down by the heaviness of the materials applied to them. Silver is the recurring hue, though there is great variation throughout Pérez Monzón’s abstract

  • picks July 01, 2015

    Cy Twombly

    Cy Twombly was the greatest American painter of the twentieth century, and the greatest painter after Picasso, period. Such seemingly hyperbolic assertions are necessary, and even understated, in that they can only infer the myriad ways in which Twombly’s century could not wholly contain him. His works are as enduringly elegant in their wretchedness as ever, and thus an exhibition of the artist’s work, no matter how large or small, is always a welcome event.

    This current one, housed in the airy rooms of a baroque marble palace on the Grand Canal, brings together a career-spanning selection of

  • picks June 11, 2015

    Nathalie Du Pasquier

    Nathalie Du Pasquier’s current exhibition serves as a miniretrospective with a focus on her works on paper. Those who only know of her from the Memphis Group will likely expect to find an aesthetic similar to that of the 1980s po-mo interior-design mavericks, whose furniture was once described in The Guardian as a “shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price.” While the show will certainly help viewers discern her individual contributions to the overall Memphis look, the focus is rightly on the development of Du Pasquier’s independent artistic work, rather than her design sketches, over

  • picks June 05, 2015

    Renzo Martens

    In a world that treasures and rewards gestures of good will—and I am talking about the art world here—Renzo Martens is one of the few artists who puts his money where his mouth is. When an artist shows a work about poverty in underdeveloped nations in typical art-world locales such as New York, Berlin, or the Venice Biennale, the effects—such as the generation of capital—are only felt in those places; it does nothing to benefit or appease the suffering of the distant subjects of the work.

    Through his Institute for Human Activities, Martens has worked to establish an artists’ colony on a former

  • picks May 29, 2015

    Otto Zitko

    Otto Zitko’s artistic project has been very consistent: He paints lines and he doesn’t need anything else. In this way, his art is a kind of asemic writing. Usually his works are done on walls in interiors, occasionally permanent but often only temporary, which induces a kind of melancholy when one realizes that after the exhibition ends they will be painted over by a dull and oppressive white. But while it lasts, the scene is wild snakes dancing and going mad in an ecstatic orgy, with colors oh so bright.

    Here, Zitko offers ten canvases, which are all actually cardboard, dated 2015, and untitled.

  • diary May 28, 2015

    Altered States

    YEAH YEAH, by now we’re well aware that the outside is the inside, that we all exist within this giant urtext that we can never really get out of. Well, for some of us, that just isn’t enough: The lure of a beyond, if only as a conceptual inference, with all its potentialities and numinosities, is simply too great to be cast into the aside of passivity. Altering one’s consciousness—chemically or via other means—can become the noblest of pursuits; away from the hippie rhetoric and the narcissism of self-enlightenment, the psychedelic experience might also be considered as a research methodology