Critics’ Picks

Liz Craft, Hairy with Thought Balloon (green and black), 2005, bronze, steel, stain glass, 72 x 48 x 24".


“Comic Future”

Wexner Center for the Arts
The Ohio State University 1871 North High Street
May 17–August 3

“Comic Future,” curated by Ballroom Marfa’s Fairfax Dorn, assembles drawings by Sigmar Polke and Walead Beshty, sculptures by Liz Craft, a video by Paul McCarthy, and paintings by Lari Pittman, among other works, to plumb the formal and conceptual plasticity of comics and cartoons within contemporary art. The works on view tease out the cartoon body, a ready-made form implicated as a sign of globalized capital and identity, and as such a tool for spirited social critique. In this context, it's not surprising that Walt Disney’s various characters abound along with superheroes and other robust characters gestured at in the work of Dana Schutz, Peter Saul, Aaron Curry, and Carroll Dunham.

One will notice the profile of Snow White’s dwarves in Arturo Herrera’s mesmerizing graphite drawing Untitled, 2001, and then see them reappear in Rapt, 2011, a layered collage of cut felt that enlarges and abstracts their familiar visages. From here, it is easy—even comfortable—to see the characters in Mike Kelley’s Untitled (Allegorical Drawing), 1976/2011, or in Schutz’s Feelings, 2003, as cousins of Dopey and Doc. Likewise, Kelley’s “City” sculptures and videos suggest not only depictions of Superman’s Kandor, as Kelley intended, but also another magical kingdom, where Erik Parker’s psychedelic vegetation and Sue Williams’s humanoid blobs might call home. As much as these works may withdraw into “comic abstraction,” they also speculate on and engage another world, a posthuman future evolving and devolving into forms not so different from our own.