Critics’ Picks

Quisqueya Henriquez, 99 bad mirrors, 2011, one hundred color photographs, 50 x 70”.

Quisqueya Henriquez, 99 bad mirrors, 2011, one hundred color photographs, 50 x 70”.


“Don’t Get High on Your Own Supply”

David Castillo Gallery
420 Lincoln Road
November 12–December 31, 2011

This exhibition’s title references a well-known line from the 1981 film Scarface that foreshadows the self-destruction of Al Pacino’s character from cocaine abuse at the apogee of his power. Unlike the movie, the works on view have little to do with 1980s drug culture in Miami, but they do betray an obsessive-compulsive quality—usually in technique—that is nonetheless reined in, never becoming excessive, trivial, or superfluous. This show is tightly knit—literally, given the range of handwoven textiles here—and presents a refreshing mix of emerging and established artists.
Both of Jayson Musson’s untitled paintings from this year are laborious constructions that turn the mercerized cotton of scarves and other clothing from the hip-hop label Coogi into irresistible tactile fields of colorful abstraction; it is worth noting that Scarface has been embraced by the hip-hop community. Samantha Bittman’s paintings are as much optical experiences as Musson’s are embodied ones. Through a meticulous and almost imperceptible layering of acrylic onto her handwoven canvases, she creates dazzling Op art effects.
Not all of the works are textile-based. Quisqueya Henriquez’s 99 Bad Mirrors, 2011, is a grid of glossy prints, each one a serial digital reworking of a section of Blinky Palermo’s 1973 work Mirror Object from the Internet. Finally, a humorous highlight is Musson’s 2010 short video ART THOUGHTZ: Bruce Nauman, in which his hip-hop alter ego, Hennessy Youngman, explains that clowns, water, hands, and torture are all off-limits for today’s artists—they have been done before (and better) by Nauman, whose iconic works involving serial repetition could be genealogically linked to the works in this show.