Critics’ Picks

View of “Brook Andrew,” 2016.

View of “Brook Andrew,” 2016.


Brook Andrew

Galerie Nathalie Obadia | Rue du Cloître St. Merri
3, rue du Cloître St. Merri
May 28–July 23, 2016

Brook Andrew’s current exhibition includes work made during a recent photo residency at the Musée du quai Branly in Paris, an institution dedicated to the indigenous arts and cultures of Oceania, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. (It is not the first time Andrew has been invited to dwell on major ethnographic archives.) Though his take on what he encounters is often an unusual combination of irony and aestheticism, he is highly critical of colonialism and all of its imposed ideologies and narratives.

Cross-historical documents from the eighteenth to the twentieth century—postcards, photographs, maps, and journals—that reference Brazil, Congo, Guyana, Israel, Morocco, Sudan, and the United States, are enigmatically remediated by the artist. In Andrew’s series “Sunset” (all works cited, 2016), found images are combined in a variegated assortment of frames made from rare African sapele wood, popular in 1950s modernist design. In Sunset V, a press picture of a performer in blackface is juxtaposed with a photograph of an aboriginal Australian that is bluntly captioned, “Sydney - Native Climbing With Vine.”

In Stripes I and II, depicting a headless figure wearing a striped naval top—the kind often associated with Picasso—is screen-printed onto a linen canvas and augmented by mysterious neon tube. Remnants features a painting balanced on a pile of leather-bound art books devoted to the Western canon. Its spray-painted vortex of pulsating lines—bright red, diamond shaped—was inspired by the Wiradjuri patterning of the artist’s maternal ancestors. Written at the top of the painting is this chilling inscription: “Remnants I figure is the only way to dream yourself away until nothingness.”