Critics’ Picks

Alicja Kwade, Fernwirkung (Afar), 2009, glass, wood, copper, brass, 55 x 59 x 12". Installation view.

Alicja Kwade, Fernwirkung (Afar), 2009, glass, wood, copper, brass, 55 x 59 x 12". Installation view.


Alice Channer, Dagmar Heppner, Alicja Kwade, and Maria Zahle

Limmatstrasse 214
January 16–February 27, 2010

Post-Minimalism was a kind of “feminizing of Minimalism,” curator Lynn Zelevansky has suggested. Though she was citing the movement’s investment in performance, process art, and Conceptualism, her observation might also be applied to numerous female artists working with Minimalist mores today—though they appear less interested in challenging its spartan formal strategies than in wedding them to materials that connote wittily feminine narratives. Such is the case with the four European artists whose works—citing fashion, design, and architecture—constitute this pithy, evocative group show.

Maria Zahle’s 90˚ Dip, 2009, features pieces of paper—dipped in azure paint—curling off the wall like swatches of the Caribbean. The arrangement mimes the gallery’s loose grid of windows opposite, a limber architectural allusion, and connects to Alicja Kwade’s Fernwirkung (Afar), 2009, in which an assortment of materials—green-tinged glass, a branch, poles of copper and brass—lean against the wall, gently bending before they hit the floor. This formal line is taken further in Alice Channer’s Concentration I, 2008, two attenuated works of knife-pleated gold lamé suspended from the ceiling. Delineating razor-sharp lines of dark gold against the air and along the floor, the works accompany Channer’s gorgeous drawings in “Dilate,” 2010, with their ash and gouache circles. Dagmar Heppner’s silhouette-like linocuts from vintage fashion plates (everything excised except for the clothes) and blue-lacquered fabric sculpture—its folds evoking a deflated witch—also distill the fashion world, editing its bodies out of existence.

Though the show invokes granddaddies like Richard Serra and John McCracken, closer in thesis seem grandes dames Roni Horn and Rosemary Trockel, their minimal formalism imbued with narratives that expertly enact or subvert gender expectations. BolteLang’s artists toe a similar line. If the figure is excised from their lean, lustrous works, it never seems far from their thoughts.