Yuki Higashino

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

    CLOSE-UP: DAY AFTER DAY

    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

  • Adji Dieye, Maggic Cube Atlas, 2019, digital C-print, 59 × 39 3⁄8". From “. . . of bread, wine, cars, security and peace.”

    “. . . of bread, wine, cars, security and peace”

    Curated by What, How & for Whom

    Departing from the writing of Lebanese author Bilal Khbeiz, this exhibition addresses the discrepancy between the dreams and aspirations of the citizens of the Global South—which often include the mere satisfaction of basic material needs—and those of the “developed world.” Some of the works in this show engage with the “dissatisfaction, ethnic nationalism, and violence” stemming from inaccessibility; others aim to reimagine what the future might promise. The show is important: It marks the debut of What, How & for Whom as the new leader of the kunsthalle. Not

  • Thomas Locher, Lumpenalphabet (Z), 2019, silk screen on acrylic glass, 18 7⁄8 × 18 7⁄8 × 2". From the series “Lumpenalphabet,” 2019.

    Thomas Locher and Willem de Rooij

    In David Mitchell’s 2010 novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, the protagonist, a young Dutch East India Company clerk stationed in Japan in the late eighteenth century, surprises the court of the magistrate of Nagasaki by speaking Japanese, which he has been learning in secret. No one has ever heard a foreigner speak Japanese, and afterward, one of the stunned advisers mocks the Dutchman’s accent for sounding “like a crow’s,” whereupon the magistrate chides his subordinate by asking if he speaks Dutch “like a nightingale.” This scene encapsulates the dual character of language. On the

  • Nina Canell, Brief Syllable (Truncated), 2017, subterranean cable fragment, 9 × 25 5⁄8 × 9". From “Transmissions.”

    “Transmissions”

    Alex Bacon’s curatorial premise for this concise and elegantly installed group show, part of the annual “curated by” initiative bringing international curators to Vienna galleries, was to examine how artists address “rates of transmission—of energy, information, goods, bodies,” and the like. Questions of circulation, dissemination, and exchange have a significant Conceptualist lineage (think of Hans Haacke or Allan Sekula), but Bacon’s engagement with these highly relevant issues of contemporary life displayed a rare sharpness. Perhaps counterintuitively, however, the exhibition’s strength

  • Yun Hyong-keun, Umber-Blue, 1978, oil on cotton, 110 3/8 x 72 1/2 ".
    picks October 02, 2019

    Yun Hyong-keun

    The singular practice of Yun Hyong-keun can be best analyzed through the “quantity-quality equation,” proposed by Yve-Alain Bois. This concept purports that the physical size of flat colors covering a picture’s surface determines the work’s character instead of its composition. In other words, a picture that relies on the impact of color can only be conceived in its real scale, and cannot be designed or prepared in smaller studies. This principle insists on the specificity of dimensions and disposes of the supremacy of drawing, or preparation of concept, over color in Western art. One of Korea’s

  • Helene Schjerfbeck, Girl from Eydtkuhne II, 1927, oil on canvas, 27 1/2 x 21 1/2".
    picks September 11, 2019

    Helene Schjerfbeck

    The transformation of Helene Schjerfbeck from an accomplished if unremarkable salon painter at the end of the nineteenth century to a radical modernist from the 1900s onward is so abrupt that it could give one mental whiplash. My Mother, 1902, made when the artist was forty, is the earliest among her twentieth-century pieces in this survey (which includes a selection of her nineteenth-century works) and already speaks the abstract language she would develop over the next four decades: flattening of space, reduction of detail, and use of clothing to introduce a large patch of dominant color. All

  • Richard Aldrich, I(?), 2017, oil and wax on panel, 14 × 10".

    Richard Aldrich

    At first, Richard Aldrich’s recent exhibition “Sings” appeared to be a self-contained system indifferent to the outside world. Featuring four small abstract paintings and a work on paper of similar size, along with a sculpture, the show offered no press release with contextual information, no explication of the subjects or the ideas behind the works, and no poetic text that could serve as an entry into the artist’s thinking. The gallery supplied visitors only with the title of the exhibition and those of the individual works (some of them Untitled). Misako & Rosen’s architecture, a single

  • Makiko Masutani, dreamt in the greenhouse, 2019, acrylic on cotton, 39 1/2 x 31 1/2”.
    picks June 06, 2019

    Takuya Ikezaki and Makiko Masutani

    That a sense of displacement is a fundamental condition of being an artist is a cliché, but one that artists Takuya Ikezaki and Makiko Masutani customize and update in this two-person exhibition. Ikezaki, who grew up in Tokunoshima, a subtropical island south of Japan, moved to New York last year and found its winter difficult to endure. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that, being a transplant, he did not know many people yet and much of his contact with the outside world came from promotional materials (“WELCOME TO WHITNEY MEMBERSHIP”) and parcels ordered online. For his works on