Yuki Higashino

  • 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

  • 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

  • “. . . 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