Travis Jeppesen

  • diary May 06, 2010

    Exile on Main St.

    Berlin

    IN A CITY that seems to eat, breathe––nay, live art year-round, the idea of a Gallery Weekend seems conspicuously commercial, if not clunkily redundant. (As a friend put it, “Isn’t every weekend a ‘gallery weekend’?”) Granted, it does have the civic advantage of luring the rest of the art world to town, thus concretizing an abstract place-name typically preceded by “lives and works in”––at least for a few nights. And, for those who actually do live and work here, it serves as a reminder that, while Berlin may well be historicized one day as having been the capital of artistic production in the

  • picks April 21, 2010

    Martin Eder

    In the six paintings comprising “Ugly,” Martin Eder’s latest solo exhibition, the artist has left behind the distorted, sexualized landscapes populated with domestic animals and dazed adolescents that characterized much of his earlier work, and has narrowed his focus to concentrate on isolated female subjects in postures of repose and pensive indulgence. One new piece features a young woman gazing out at viewers with an expression of deranged seductiveness, damning them to either look closer or just look away. The work’s title, Falte (all works 2010), can be translated as “Wrinkle,” and may

  • diary April 01, 2010

    Teaches of Peaches

    Berlin

    AROUND CERTAIN FIGURES, it can sometimes feel as though the hype is so pervasive that it is difficult to find anyone capable of formulating a genuine opinion. In Berlin, this is especially true for Peaches, the electropop princess of porn, who many in the local, ever-intertwined art/fashion/music/club scenes consider nothing less than a living legend, if not an infallible god. Call me a cynic (I prefer skeptic), but when I heard that Peaches intended to perform, solo, the entirety of Jesus Christ Superstar, with piano accompaniment by close friend and compatriot Chilly Gonzales, my initial

  • picks February 16, 2010

    George Condo

    You could almost say that George Condo has two solo shows going on at once in “Family Portrait,” his current exhibition in Berlin. On the surface, at least, the two series of paintings each seems created by a different artist. In the smaller first room hang four somber single portraits of strange, characteristically Condo-esque creatures against night-blue backgrounds. It’s all a bit Where the Wild Things Are gone awry: strange beasts with enormous jaw structures that double as necks, heads twisted like balloon sculptures into mutated shapes, each assigned the same stock of red hair and thus

  • picks February 08, 2010

    Felix Gonzalez-Torres

    A joyful insouciance accompanied the opening of the first large-scale Felix Gonzalez-Torres exhibition in Brussels, with gallery-goers posing for pictures in front of mounds of candy, seemingly, through the haze of a communal sugar high, unable to view the work as anything other than a Pop hoax. There was no apparent meditation on what the piles might mean or, more important, what it means to take from them. Yet reflection often takes place after the fact, so we can be hopeful that this monumental resurrection of Gonzalez-Torres’s oeuvre will spur at least some introspection on finitude and

  • picks December 02, 2009

    “British Art Now”

    In “British Art Now,” Edward Lucie-Smith has assembled a small group exhibition that is meant to provide “a snapshot view of what is happening in the London art world today.” Embedded within this curatorial concept is an argument that a new type of YBA has emerged on the scene, one just as deserving of notice as the wine-splashing, headlines-grabbing Goldsmiths crew of the previous decade.

    The centerpiece of the exhibition is inarguably a grouping of paintings by brothers Luke and Sam Jackson. Each works in a diminished scale, arranging small canvases into thematic clusters to form individual

  • picks November 19, 2009

    Wieland Speck and Shelly Silver

    One August afternoon in 1978, painter Per Lüke straddled the western end of the Berlin Wall and played a small harp. Filmmaker Wieland Speck (who would go on to make the 1985 queer classic Westler, about a romance between two men living on either side of the wall) documented this potentially life-endangering performance, which captured the curiosity of passersby—as well as the hostile attention of authorities on both sides of the divide. The footage forms the half-hour-long video centerpiece of Speck’s installation Berlin Off/On Wall, 1978, which also includes photos taken by the secret police

  • picks October 27, 2009

    Nan Goldin

    As a photographer, Nan Goldin has inspired a legion of imitators who tend to confuse certain lifestyle traits with artistic substance, a privileging of content over form with an excuse for taking sloppy photographs. I tend to think of them as the Vice generation, after the magazine that first published many a Goldin copyist under a hipster anti-ethos saturated with attention begging and unwarranted self-destruction. Where one finds a similar mode of annihilative glamour in a Goldin original, it appears more authentic, perhaps accidental. Her subjects, whether laughing or crying, often seem as

  • picks October 15, 2009

    Mat Collishaw

    “Submission” is the name of Mat Collishaw’s first solo exhibition in Berlin, and the work on display assigns Collishaw’s subservience to the altar of art history. Collishaw was never the flashiest of the YBAs, but his most recent work positions him among the more studious—perhaps even the most gifted.

    On entering the massive darkened gallery, viewers are confronted by The End of Innocence (all works 2009), a monumental digital work projected onto an enormous screen. The work hijacks the “digital rain” effect popularized by the “Matrix” film trilogy to present fragmented re-creations of Pope

  • picks October 06, 2009

    Ricarda Roggan

    Photographers are often praised for their ability to work with light; with Ricarda Roggan, one might say that it is her talent for isolating darkness that distinguishes so many of her images. The light in her large photographs typically emanates from mysterious, unseen sources—and like the series of interiors she depicts, it is often unremarkable. But the omnipresent force of darkness—whether it hovers threateningly, annihilates the background, or appears in shadowy splotches to sculpt her blunt arrangements of mundane household objects, furniture pieces, and cars—endows her work with its dramatic

  • picks September 13, 2009

    Ceal Floyer

    The recent profusion of sparseness in high-profile group exhibitions such as the 2008 Whitney Biennial and this year’s “Political/Minimal” at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin have suggested that we are indeed entering a new era of restraint, understatement, subtle irony, and small gestures. Following on this trend, the latter institution has aptly chosen to open the season with a Ceal Floyer solo exhibition, the artist’s fourth in her adopted city. Floyer has mastered a minimalist language of deceptive simplicity and quiet humor; her obvious affection for objects, language, and

  • picks July 31, 2009

    Bob Tooke

    “Please Don’t Give the Birds Money!” is the emphatic title framing the latest Berlin exhibition of the Louisianan artist and musician Bob Tooke. Like the paintings featured therein, the title revels in a dumb blatancy––a joke that serves as its own punch line, rooted in a slightly off-kilter phraseology that could equally please a young child and a loony drunk.

    Tooke funnels this earnest delight into works typically rendered in crude, thick blobs of acrylic on found pieces of wood rather than canvas. The paintings dish up a callous brand of trailer-trash satire: In one series of advertisements

  • picks July 16, 2009

    E. M. C. Collard

    E. M. C. Collard is an emerging London-based German artist whose combined interest in fragmentation and the messiness of the world is reflected in her chaotic paintings, currently on view in her first German solo exhibition. The title of the show, “20:1,” refers to the shifting of scale that occurs in many of the works, wherein depictions of paper dots made by a hole punch are enlarged and then represented as if they'd been sprinkled at random onto layers of images that include tacky vacation postcards, self-portraits, and simple graph paper. The title of one series, “Zahnderzeitpasta,” 2006–2009,

  • picks July 03, 2009

    Gilbert & George

    By sheer endurance alone, jovial gentleman anarchists Gilbert & George are inarguably most deserving of the rock-star status that the art world tends to arbitrarily confer on its denizens, and the “Jack Freak Pictures,” their largest series to date, may well be the duo’s Divina Commedia. Twenty of the 153 pictures, forming a dizzying kaleidoscopic meditation on the Union Jack and, unsurprisingly, freakdom, are on display.

    When one thinks of “nation,” inevitably the notion of the masses comes to mind. With great (mock) seriousness, Gilbert & George, often in heavily distorted guise, stand in for