Yuki Higashino

  • “. . . 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 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

  • “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

  • 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

  • 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

    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

  • 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

  • picks March 19, 2019

    Leopold Kessler

    Leopold Kessler’s interventions into legal apparatuses, commercial services, and public spaces stem from perceptive and drily humorous observations of urban life, and display an acute awareness for the mundane systems that keep contemporary society running. This exhibition, “food track,” infiltrates a quintessential experience of modernized city life—ordering food via a smartphone app—with a trio of videos and several corresponding props.

    The first video is a simple recording of couriers from the German-owned delivery service Foodora supplying pizzas to Kessler. The second video, shot with a

  • Wendelien van Oldenborgh

    Wendelien van Oldenborgh’s installation Future Footnotes, 2018, was a version of a new film in progress that will premiere at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin this March in an exhibition celebrating the centenary of the Bauhaus. The film is a major production with a highly complex narrative, involving the stories of Lotte Stam-Beese, one of the first female architects to be trained at the Bauhaus; Hannes Meyer, her lover and the school’s second director; Hermina Dumont Huiswoud, a Guyanese anticolonial activist; and Langston Hughes, the Harlem Renaissance poet; as well as contemporary

  • Simone Fattal and Francesco Gennari

    “Only a very small part of architecture belongs to art: the tomb and the monument,” Adolf Loos famously wrote. “Everything else that fulfills a function is to be excluded from the domain of art.” His call for architects to focus on function rather than aesthetics also sheds light on the connection between representation and death—and thus on all the important themes of this two-person exhibition: mortality, monuments, art, and memory.

    Curated by Lorenzo Giusti, the exhibition was divided into two parts, “Simone Fattal: Border Landscapes,” and “Francesco Gennari: Mausoleum for a worm.” Fattal’s

  • picks November 28, 2018

    Helga Philipp

    While they might initially evoke Op art, the works of Helga Philipp (1939–2002) quickly reveal a complexity beyond that style’s slick optical effects. Kinetic Object, 1966–68, for instance, dizzies with its Op-like play of red and blue patterns, until one becomes aware of its sculptural materiality—the blue pattern is foil on Plexiglas, and the red behind it is silk screen on fiberboard. Fine drawings on the fiberboard, indicating the positions of the overlapping blue shapes, are also visible. The intentionality with which Philipp left these preparatory marks—disrupting the smooth exterior to

  • picks August 13, 2018

    Adriana Czernin

    Adopting motifs from non-Western cultures requires more caution—and imagination—than Western artists usually exhibit. While there are undoubtedly affinities toward forms and designs that cross cultural, geographical, and historical divides, and which are of legitimate artistic concern, unreflective engagement with them or naive claims of human universality risk mirroring the motives of colonial appropriators.

    In this exhibition, Adriana Czernin performs an intellectual tightrope act, balancing the fraught history of an object from MAK’s collection and her own aesthetic interests. She presents a

  • picks May 09, 2018

    Benjamin Butler

    Through his idiosyncratic mode of picture making, Benjamin Butler addresses the tension between pictorial beauty and conceptualism that has long overstayed its welcome in art discourse. He has done so by almost exclusively painting tree motifs for the past fifteen years. Solitary trees, trees in groups, trees in a rudimentary landscape: One could say that Butler has been painting the same view over and over, zooming in and out to explore permutations of form, composition, and color. In its seriality and almost absurd persistence, Butler’s practice is in the lineage of conceptual repetition that

  • picks March 28, 2018

    Raoul Hausmann

    While one tends to associate Dada with anarchy, political anger, and the antiaesthetic, one encounters much quietude and refined formal beauty in this outstanding survey of Raoul Hausmann’s lesser known photography, expertly curated by Cécile Bargues. Hausmann’s images are exceptional in their versatility and fluency in various photographic styles. Some of his landscapes and still lifes, such as Untitled (Tree Stumps on the Beach), 1931, anthropomorphize forms in the natural world and evoke Surrealism, while his photographs of peasant houses in Ibiza between 1933 and 1936, including Can Nadal

  • picks March 01, 2018

    Sheila Hicks

    In this momentous survey of Sheila Hicks’s art that covers sixty years of production, one is immediately struck by how the seductive materiality and exuberant colors of her art manage to coalesce into an articulate and unique architectural environment. The column-like pieces where fibers cascade from the ceiling, such as Trapèze de Cristobal, 1971, and Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column, 2013–14, add powerful structural elements that accentuate the vast, open exhibition area, creating a sense of flow between the horizontality of the room’s exposed pipes and the verticality of the sculptures. The

  • picks February 14, 2018

    Alice Attie, Karin Sander, and Jongsuk Yoon

    The pleasure of a group show lies in the possibility of seeing hitherto unacknowledged or overlooked qualities of the artists’ work revealed through their juxtaposition. This exhibition—focusing on Alice Attie, Karin Sander, and Jongsuk Yoon—achieves this cross-fertilization with ease and quiet elegance.

    The contrast is particularly stark between Attie’s exquisite, meticulous drawings and Yoon’s large, brash Abstract Expressionism–influenced canvases. However, when the works are compared, the intensity and tacit wildness of Attie’s Black Planet, 2017, and Landscape, 2016, and the restrained color

  • picks December 22, 2017

    Kirstine Roepstorff and Matyáš Chochola

    Upon entering the main exhibition space of Last Tango, one is hit by the pungent smell of fresh asphalt. Most of the floor is covered with sheets of it, and some of the walls are painted matte black. This oppressive and industrial environment is occupied by the strange sculptures of Matyáš Chochola. Consisting of glass, melted asphalt, and various types of found objects, they tend to resemble crystal formations, such as “X-Rays,” 2015–17, or echo Cubist sculptures, as in No Name, 2017. These works are paired with debris of recently obsolete digital technology, including an old ink-jet printer

  • Gerard Byrne

    The ultimate aim of a representation is to be more “real” than what it depicts, so that people desire the image more than the objects it portrays. The insatiable drive toward ever-sharper high definition testifies to this age-old impulse. So does the Biologiska Museet in Stockholm. Constructed in 1893 and designed by the architect Agi Lindegren, it was one of the first museums in Europe to adopt a naturalistic approach to the display of zoological specimens. In one circular room, taxidermied Nordic animals appear in a 360-degree diorama, under natural light, against a backdrop painted by the

  • picks September 24, 2017

    “Complexity, Contradiction, and a Decorated Shed”

    This concise exhibition inaugurates a project space in Vienna that aims to introduce the richness of architectural theory to perspectives on contemporary art. This goal is evident in the title of the show, which references two books by Robert Venturi, namely Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Learning from Las Vegas (the latter co-authored with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour).

    A selection of drawings by Josef Dabernig, made between 1974 and 2017, testifies to his lifelong engagement with architecture. Three of these examples from 1974 and 1975 were created in response to

  • Florian Pumhösl

    Karl Marx argued in the Grundrisse (1857–58) that it is impossible to grasp the complexity of the world with an abstract concept. An idea is merely a starting point, which must be fleshed out through “the method of rising from the abstract to the concrete.” When applied to the aesthetic realm, this fundamentally anti-Platonic conception of abstraction runs counter to the idea that artists reach abstract forms via distillation, the process Theo van Doesburg famously illustrated with his 1917 abstraction of a cow. But if abstraction is a starting point and not a goal, the separation of the abstract