Yuki Higashino

  • Nathlie Provosty, Untitled (i), 2021, oil on linen, 19 × 15".

    Nathlie Provosty

    In Japanese folklore, the ungaikyō is a demonic mirror that bewitches with its reflections. But there is disagreement about what it actually does. Some say it shows phantasmagoric and shifting illusions to frighten and charm; others say the mirror is sacred and that it reveals disguised shape-shifters by exposing their true forms. Does the living mirror lie in order to dazzle, or does it reveal deeper invisible truths? That is also the question of art.

    Nathlie Provosty’s show “What A Fool Ever To Be Tricked Into Seriousness” reminded me of this Japanese legend. On one level, that was because the

  • Judith Eisler, Sean 3, 2022, oil on canvas, 59 1/4 x 69 1/8''.*
    picks April 13, 2023

    Judith Eisler

    Judith Eisler has been painting film stills for more than two-and-a-half decades. While such a procedure places her in the discourse of appropriation, when an artist engages with a single subject over such a long duration the initial idea, in her case painting appropriated images from films, mostly of women, ceases to be an adequate explanation of the artist’s practice. Something much harder to define occurs. Think of Morandi. It would be absurd to say that his “idea” was to paint bottles. Similarly, it appears that for Eisler, the fact of painting film stills has not been the central concern

  • John Dilg, Jungle Republic, 2022, oil on canvas, 12 × 16".

    John Dilg

    An anonymous fifteenth-century Belgian miniature depicts a battle from the Books of the Maccabees in which the hero Eleazar slays a war elephant whose body is about to crush him to death. The illustration shows a truly fanciful creature, a cross between a donkey and an anteater, with an elongated nose, gray fur, and hooves, bearing on its back a stone tower inhabited by three soldiers. The artist, presumably a monk, had evidently never seen an elephant and relied instead on descriptions of the animal. Many similar images exist throughout history and across cultures: manifestations of hearsay,

  • Helmut Federle, Bird Migration at Azusa-Gawa River in Winter, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 27 1/2 × 39 3/8".
    picks March 10, 2023

    Helmut Federle

    The dominant landscape tradition in East Asian art is called shan shui, or mountain and water. Aside from describing its chief subjects, the term also indicates the specificity of its medium: the liquidity of ink. In traditional paintings from China, Korea, and Japan, black fluid flows like water through intricate compositions infused with a serene atmosphere and material succulence. Recent works by Helmut Federle display a clear affinity for this genre, both through their color palette and wetness, while circumventing such an overt association through the process of repeated accumulation and

  • View of “Gozo Yoshimasu,” 2022. Photo: Kei Okano.

    Gozo Yoshimasu

    In his recently published book on poetics, with the deceptively simple title What Is Poetry (Kodansha, 2021), Gozo Yoshimasu muses on the way he has been writing since the 1960s and the way he reads works by others. When discussing Paul Celan, he says, “This ‘inability to finish a sentence’ and the ‘shortness of breath’ generate painful ‘inadequacy,’ and that is where one begins to hear the indescribable ‘residual voice’ of those ‘voices’ that were ‘not allowed to fully speak.’” When looking at the handwritten manuscripts in Yoshimasu’s exhibition “Voix,” one became acutely aware of his struggle

  • Futoshi Miyagi, Banner (from Road to Nominewee), 2022, cloth, thread, 23 5⁄8 × 25 3⁄8". From the series “American Boyfriend,” 2012–.

    Futoshi Miyagi

    If your chief medium is photography and your central concern is human intimacy, as is the case with Futoshi Miyagi, then the past three years of pandemic-induced isolation might have prompted a reexamination of the nature of your practice. Miyagi’s exhibition “American Boyfriend: Portraits and Banners” took place in two venues in Tokyo. These presentations constituted the latest manifestations of Miyagi’s sprawling “American Boyfriend” project, 2012–, which asks whether it is possible for “an Okinawan man and an American man, possibly a soldier” to fall in love in Okinawa. The question that ties

  • Nancy Haynes, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, 2022, oil on canvas, 9 × 12". From the series “library,” 2017–.

    Nancy Haynes

    Some paintings are suffused with the time involved in making them. These pictures speak of their own careful and gradual emergence, like ice slowly forming on a lake at the onset of winter. Like a frozen lake, where one simply senses the ice’s thickness even though only its top layer is visible, such paintings also make the viewer implicitly aware of their durational development. Nancy Haynes is a painter clearly attuned to such a temporal consciousness, with a sensibility that also informs her affinity for writing, even though her works do not suggest any hint of narrative.

    Her exhibition “a

  • Yuji Agematsu, zip: 02.15.20, mixed media in cigarette-pack cellophane wrapper,  2 1⁄2 × 2 1⁄8 × 1".


    THE SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY MONK, poet, and sculptor Enku spent his life traveling across Japan, carving statues of Buddhist deities at each place he stayed. Largely forgoing high-quality timber, he used whatever wood was at hand, including stumps, building scraps, and offcuts from his own carvings. He is said to have made as many as 120,000 of his distinctively raw and rough-hewn statues, about five thousand of which survive; some, known as koppabutsu, or “scrap-wood Buddha,” are tiny, meant to be held in the palm of one’s hand. Enku’s engagement with the world and the substances it offers finds

  • View of “Gaylen Gerber,” 2020. Photo: Gaylen Gerber and Paul Levack.

    Gaylen Gerber

    When you apply a noise-cancellation filter to an audio file you are editing—whether of speech, birdsong, or a symphony—and set the threshold too high, the resulting sound becomes strangely fragmented. Much information disappears, and the soundscape is transformed into a distorted and unfamiliar, yet oddly fascinating, terrain. If there were a spatial equivalent of such extreme acoustic filtering, it might have looked like this exhibition by Gaylen Gerber. The show consisted of two paintings, both Untitled, and a group of objects, all of which were simply called Support. The works in both groups

  • Zbyněk Sekal, Kopf, 1962, oil on canvas, 10 × 10".

    Zbyněk Sekal

    The Belvedere 21 building was originally designed for the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels by Austrian architect Karl Schwanzer (1918–1975). It was reconstructed in Vienna and repurposed as an art museum in 1962—the process made possible by its modular system and steel-skeleton structure—and again relocated and remodeled in 2011. The main exhibition hall on the ground floor is an expansive open space, and its four sides, three of which face the outdoors, are almost entirely constructed of glass. The structure’s organizing principle is the grid, through and through, down to the floor, which is paved

  • View of “Ups and Downs of a Flipped Planet,” 2020.
    picks September 25, 2020

    Ups and Downs of a Flipped Planet

    Hands without bodies, leather jackets with absent wearers, bronze figures with twisted legs. This deceptively sophisticated three-person exhibition, curated by Chiara Vecchiarelli, percolates with morbid undertones and latent violence. Eliza Douglas’s paintings seem to merge the calligraphic abstraction of Franz Kline with the meaty and cartoonish look of Philip Guston. Naturalistic hands, executed by another artist, are fused to far more painterly, elongated arms extending to the edge of canvases—or, in I Am All Soul, 2016, are connected by fleshy brush to equally convincing feet. With their

  • Kurt Schwerdtfeger, Reflektorische Farblichtspiele (Reflecting Color-Light-Play) (detail), 1922/2016, wood, spotlights, gels, and electrical switchboard, dimensions variable.
    picks February 21, 2020

    Kurt Schwerdtfeger

    Reflektorische Farblichtspiele (Reflecting Color-Light-Play, 1922/2016) by the Bauhaus artist Kurt Schwerdtfeger (1897–1966) is a type of artwork that, even after nearly a century, still manages to startle. It reminds one of how astoundingly radical the German school and other such early modernist experiments could be. The piece is a cube-like projection device, measuring roughly eight feet on all sides. It features colored lights, a system to control them, and several rails for sliding wooden panels with geometric patterns cut into them. All of this is operated by performers who hide inside