Yuki Higashino

  • 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

  • picks July 11, 2017

    Elfie Semotan and Michel Würthle

    Spread between two venues, this dual exhibition is an exercise in dialogue and friendship between two artists who have known each other for decades. It is also an experiment in installation. While the presentation at Gabriele Senn Galerie is classical and precise, in effect staging Elfie Semotan’s and Michel Würthle’s work as two solo shows on separate floors, the exhibition at Galerie Crone has a much freer hanging, with Semotan’s and Würthle’s pieces cohabiting on the same walls. These starkly different approaches delightfully complement each other, creating a rich and coherent whole.

    Semotan’s

  • picks April 03, 2017

    Mangelos

    Trained in art history and philosophy, and known as an influential critic and curator in what was then Communist Zagreb, Mangelos (a pseudonym of the late Dimitrije Bašičević) offers a distinct approach to language as an aesthetic material. Unlike his Conceptualist contemporaries in the West, who came to this subject as the logical conclusion of modernist reduction and dematerialization, the artist adapted painted and drawn words in different languages as a way to extend his philosophical reflections into the material world, a physical counterpart to abstract thinking. His practice was essentially

  • picks March 03, 2017

    Ian Hamilton Finlay

    These works about the French Revolution by the late Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay have subtle and eerie resonance with our time. Finlay’s main concern was to grasp the historical transition from idealism and excitement to catastrophe, the instant just before the rupture (in this case, the Reign of Terror). A tense moment to be sure, yet Finlay’s graceful humor never allows the works to be didactic or lugubrious.

    This apprehension is captured particularly well in Both the Garden Style . . ., 1987, a modest and elegant lithograph that shows a guillotine covered with flowers. The caption under

  • picks January 23, 2017

    Walter Pichler

    This retrospective of Walter Pichler’s work makes it clear that he remains profoundly influential, both in his native Austria and beyond. Simultaneously working in sculpture, architecture, graphic design, furniture, industrial design, drawing, and occasionally writing, he liberally blurred the disciplinary boundaries between these fields and heralded an expanded notion of what an artist might be.

    Take, for instance, Table for Oswald and Ingrid (Prototype 8), 1967. It is purportedly a dining table for two, with inflatable legs and a plastic top with indentations that are meant to function as

  • picks August 15, 2016

    “Oomph”

    The phrase “Swedish design” usually conjures a range of hugely popular stylistic conventions rather than works by individual designers. Therefore, this show’s effort to locate the emergence of the style in its original context between the 1930s and the 1960s, while highlighting the vital roles played by female designers, is helpful toward gaining deeper insight into one of the most dominant influences in our built environment today.

    The exhibition successfully strikes the right balance between being seductive and informative. The irresistibly appealing design objects are expertly displayed, while

  • picks June 17, 2016

    Dorit Margreiter

    As implied by its title, “Neue Räume” (New Spaces) is the first show to take place in this newly refurbished space. Moreover, it is the first exhibition of Dorit Margreiter’s work at the gallery. These simple conditions led the artist to conclude that this blank slate is an artistic equivalent to that of a frontier, therefore requiring her to revisit the history of the Western genre. The result of this dryly hilarious reasoning, underpinned by her erudition in cinema history, is a short 16-mm film featuring a lone rider and his horse in a sublime landscape, titled Transfer (Monument Valley),

  • picks June 02, 2016

    Gerald Domenig

    What is lost and what gained in transferring the three-dimensional world onto the flat surface of a photographic print is the chief concern of Gerald Domenig. The four decades of his practice have been a ceaseless and playful inquiry into this question. This exhibition serves as a useful introduction to his rich oeuvre.

    The most striking group of works is the photographs of architecture. These untitled gelatin silver prints show inconspicuous details of buildings. Due to their deft compositions—for instance, a clever use of corners that makes the skyline of a city seen through windows appear like

  • picks February 08, 2016

    Maria Lai

    The late Sardinian artist Maria Lai’s works demonstrate the freedom from dogma that artists at the periphery can enjoy. Though her most creative period—the early 1970s to the late 1980s—coincided with the advent of postmodernism, her practice was firmly anchored in a modernist language. However, while the ideal modern artist was figured as a heroic innovator, Lai was a synthesizer of methodologies, liberally taking elements from Arte Povera, Conceptual art, Minimalism, and fiber art, or works by painters such as Cy Twombly and Agnes Martin. These diverse vocabularies constitute Lai’s highly

  • picks January 27, 2016

    “To Expose, to Show, to Demonstrate, to Inform, to Offer”

    Prompted by ongoing social upheavals—including the fall of the Iron Curtain, the advance of globalization, and the AIDS crisis—the artistic paradigm around the 1990s didn’t so much shift as it broke into many overlapping positions that required a nuanced understanding of context. Diverse practices such as activism, politics, and exhibition design were adopted as artistic endeavors. Instead of being a neutral shell to be filled with artworks, an exhibition became a complex medium itself—produced by specific social, political, and economic conditions.

    Naturally, a historical exhibition on socially

  • picks December 18, 2015

    Tris Vonna-Michell

    In order to understand Tris Vonna-Michell’s practice, it is crucial to be aware of his affinity with the history of experimental poetry—an allegiance that is clearly demonstrated in this exhibition. The show consists almost entirely of one installation, Wasteful Illuminations: Distracted Listening, 2015, in which sound is the dominant feature. The audio is based on a field recording that Vonna-Michell made in 2008 in Japan—which has its conceptual origin in an earlier trip there as a teenager. This complex soundscape of Japan’s urban environment was then transcribed by the artist into a score

  • picks November 05, 2015

    Constanze Ruhm

    Austrian artist and filmmaker Constanze Ruhm has been contributing to the discourse on moving images through her exhibitions, films, curatorial projects, and writing since the mid-1990s. Though she is primarily known for her films that update feminist film theory and Brechtian dramaturgy, what is instantly striking in this midcareer survey is another less discussed aspect of her practice—namely, the exploration of possibilities for presenting moving images in exhibition contexts. The show’s circular design, which is based on the shape of a 16-mm reel, with a specially constructed cinema in the

  • picks October 01, 2015

    “The 31st Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts”

    At Moderna Galerija, one of two institutional venues, two architectural gestures by Luca Frei elegantly frame the exhibition. Frei has filled the grooves that run around every wall in the space with white pebbles commonly found in gardens. Moreover, he painted a bright-pink frieze around the top perimeter of the central exhibition room, conceptually lowering the ceiling to

  • picks July 09, 2015

    Larry Johnson

    Modulation of desire, in particular the desire Larry Johnson chronicles in and for Los Angeles, is the artist’s principal operation. Thus, it is pertinent that “On Location,”—Larry Johnson’s first major solo show in Europe, curated by Bruce Hainley along with Antony Hudek—starts with Untitled (Achievement: SW Corner, Glendale + Silverlake Blvds), 2009. The piece depicts an Emmy sitting on a windowsill from the point of view of the street, subtly emphasizing the tantalizing if actually impossible nature of the success the statuette embodies, placed at the nose of pedestrian experience.