Critics’ Picks

Ulla von Brandenburg, Handschuhe (Gloves), 2007, watercolor on paper, 33 x 23 1/2".

New York

“Like Leaves”

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
521 West 21st Street
September 15–October 13

“Like Leaves” is a quiet show. The simile comes from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, and Dublin-based curator Caomhín Mac Giolia Léith has assembled an appropriately theatrical, mournful exhibition—albeit minus the playwright’s bleak humor. Works by ten European artists fill the three rooms of the gallery’s upstairs space, including two photographs by another Irishman, Gerard Byrne, from his series “A country road. A tree. Evening,” 2006–. Illustrating Godot’s setting, the artist has turned the world into a stage, lighting the landscape itself with colored gels. A stage set of ruins is illuminated in three pieces by Anna Barham; a framed postcard, Arrive Waiting, 2007, depicts an early-nineteenth-century architectural folly on George III’s Surrey estate, built from the actual remains of an ancient Roman temple. Ulla von Brandenburg’s work consistently turns to the themes of theater, dance, and the occult; using only a series of glittery purple lines in Handschuhe (Gloves), 2007, the watercolor featured here, she creates a pair of long, elegant striped gloves, perfectly poised but without a bodily presence. Although women appear in all five of Miroslav Tichy’s undated photographs, they remain at a distance, unobtainable. The images seem blurred and distressed by desire; in one, a chain-link fence separates subject from viewer. At the center of the largest room sits a 2007 sculpture by Isabel Nolan—a fragile wooden structure of two connecting arcs balances lightly on an embroidered green carpet. Titled The Unfolding Moment, it perfectly captures the mood of the surrounding works: This is not Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” but a slowly developing story line.