reviews

  • Ross Bleckner

    Mary Boone Gallery

    Ross Bleckner’s paintings walk a fine line between painterly flourish and shimmering smoothness. The sheer dexterity with which darkness and luminosity are integrated in these works bespeaks a master of surface, as does their abiding transparency, which opens onto infinite, unsettling, and unsettled depths. Bleckner has created a new vertigo of the sublime, in which disorienting space and flickering, tenuous substance converge to create a subtly turbulent, cosmic effect. Indeed, the paintings have a diabolical, cabalistic, ingeniously disturbed look.

    For me the alpha and omega of Bleckner’s

    Read more
  • Eva Hesse

    Robert Miller, SteinGladstone

    These separate exhibitions suggest the dialectic—dilemma?-—of expression and construction (seminal to Modernism, according to Theodor Adorno) that informs Eva Hesse’s art. Hesse gives each a consciously perverse, perhaps unconsciously pathological twist; expression takes on a peculiarly constructed (inhibited) look, and construction a peculiarly expressive (internally dynamic) aspect. This is hardly a reconciliation, for neither retains its validity as such.

    At the Robert Miller gallery, small, intimate gouaches suggest obsessive jottings the artist made to herself, as though redundant expression

    Read more
  • George Condo

    Pace Gallery

    George Condo’s reputation first flowered in the weedy bowers of the East Village of the early ’80s. Though in the current esthetic climate, interested parties might just as soon forget the roots of his sensibility, as in those 19th-century French novels that chronicle the rise of demimondaines to duchesses, his humble origins can be suppressed but never entirely effaced.

    Condo’s practice—favoring pastiche and quotation—was fueled, on the one hand, by a penchant for outlandish cartoons and caricatures that flourished in the East Village, and on the other, by the cooler but concurrent taste for

    Read more
  • Mary Heilmann

    Pat Hearn Gallery

    For Mary Heilmann formalism is less a prison than a resort—a space so well defined that it admits a measure of free play within its precincts. One painting, entitled Sunshine, 1991, consists of a moderately scaled sunflower-yellow rectangle whitewashed with transparent layers of mat white. That this work recalls the obfuscation of the sun by constantly shifting clouds is characteristic of Heilmann’s ability to coax a range of vivid sensations from the dryest painterly conventions (in this case the grid).

    In this show, the viewer is routed through a taxonomy of abstract types: the grid, the

    Read more
  • Bill Komoski

    Ealan Wingate Gallery

    In Bill Komoski’s recent paintings, black configurations jostle like cosmic star bursts in abstract fields. His viewpoint is not bound by the limits of optical perspective, rather, Komoski’s paintings seem to depict the world from a godlike perspective. His is the view from a spacecraft, and indeed, the scattered light in these pictures recalls stellar photographs. From somewhere out in the unknown, a diffused yet powerful light bathes all the pictorial incident in its path, imbuing the paintings with an air of mystery and awe that never seems contrived or flip.

    The impenetrable surface of these

    Read more
  • David Chow

    Amy Lipton Gallery

    David Chow’s large, gestural paintings of flowers are neither spin-offs of New Image painting nor are they merely belated nods to the romantic landscape tradition. This is not to suggest that Chow’s work is wholly without precedent, but, rather, that he doesn’t seem to be stymied by looking over his shoulder at the immediate past. In fact, Chow extends both the tradition of painterly expressionism ( particularly the abstract landscapes of Joan Mitchell) and that of classical Chinese painting and calligraphy (he has been studying with a contemporary master for a number of years).

    The range of

    Read more
  • Christian Eckart

    Rubinspangle Gallery

    Resuscitated most recently through the auspices of appropriation and “neo-geo,” abstract painting is indelibly stamped with ambiguity and irony. Though the formalist idiom just won’t die, the legacy of its freighted history is a widespread ambivalence concerning its contemporary meaning. Among the several “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” approaches to formalism, we find a lot of symptomatic hair-splitting: painters who purport to make paintings that aren’t real paintings; artists who make paintings but claim they aren’t painters; and painters who make paintings but incorporate perverse

    Read more
  • Heimo Zobernig

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Heimo Zobernig’s first exhibition in New York ran the risk of eliciting a profound “So what?” Indeed, that response may have been intentionally cultivated by the artist, but it can only serve as a prelude to the patient consideration of subtle meaning that the work ultimately demands. Though Zobernig’s tidy constructions offer a measure of immediate gratification by virtue of their straightforward presentation and construction, rewards ultimately go to those who commit to more than a fleeting glance.

    Reminiscent of Minimalism’s primary structures but more suggestive of the gap between ideas and

    Read more
  • Paul Etienne Lincoln

    Christine Burgin Gallery

    The piece is called In Tribute to Madame de Pompadour and the Court of Louis XV, 1983–91. In an elaborate contraption and its supporting documents, Paul Etienne Lincoln harnesses natural forces in the form of snails, bees, and gases to demonstrate the workings of the court of Louis XV. Everything revolves around Madame de Pompadour, a charismatic vacuum maintained in the contraption by the King, who functions in the form of a royal gasbag. The machine looks like a version of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome for midget dandies. It is metaphorically and literally powered by the bodies and

    Read more
  • Jon Tower

    American Fine Arts Co.

    Jon Tower isolates private acts to focus their refraction of public ritual; his “Solved Problems” series from 1988 framed inscrutable homework ciphers of mathematics and physics, while “Diluted Holy Water,” 1988, invented a wry self-portrait out of thieved Vatican fluid thinned with profane tap water. In Seed Piece, 1991, he installed the artifacts of an experiment in which he swallowed an apple seed made of silver and x-rayed its passage through his body. Tower’s methodical display of tools for this experiment (white casts of his mouth and asshole, the silver seed, a masticated apple in a

    Read more
  • Joan Wallace

    Postmasters

    If, as some attest, art and the marketplace are inextricably bound (the gallery as great shining supermarket), then somewhere near the checkout counter tabloids blare with breathless worry over the “divorce” of the collaborative duo Wallace & Donohue. Their thieving tour de force, which interrogated modes of exhibition, and their willful confusion of individual, brand-name ownership underscored, after all, the orderly corridors and bright lights of said supermarket. Sometimes uneasy company, together and apart, Joan Wallace and Geralyn Donohue have divided the shelves and unpacked the crates,

    Read more
  • Jim Shaw

    Feature

    Jim Shaw’s work constitutes a deep dipping back, a one-man magical mystery tour charting the development of the artist’s alter ego—an adolescent Every-boy named Billy.

    The show includes pencil drawings—reminiscent of those doodled on the covers of bumpy blue three-ring binders—Lincoln-log constructions, plastic fish-tank plants, a strange topographical-map-like miniature pool table, and an ant farm gone wrong that suggests a failed science project. The 24 similarly scaled mixed-media works exhibited are all part of My Mirage, a conceptual illustration, repackaging raw slices of a boy’s life, that

    Read more
  • Rona Pondick

    fiction/nonfiction

    In Rona Pondick’s edgy and frequently funny new works, the body seems to speak from every pore. Hoping to bridge the duality of the psychic and the physical, Pondick readdresses the born-to-die body we all live in, as both the house of our flesh and home to our dreams and fears. The image we thought we knew is dismembered and disfigured, offering palpable psychological resonances that reconcile visible and invisible worlds.

    Reconciliation takes formal as well as ideational forms in Pondick’s work, as diverse styles converge. Her voice is rooted in Surrealism, and the urge to unite distinct

    Read more
  • Hugh Steers

    Midtown Payson Galleries

    In Hugh Steers’ easel-sized figurative works, a modern theatricality is combined with a sketchy painterly manner reminiscent of old master painting. Stripped down to their underwear and depicted in drab but radiantly lit interiors, Steers’ figures appear transfixed by inexplicable gestures. Blank or pensive facial expressions register their alienation, yet the bleak reality depicted in these vignettes is to some extent tempered by the artist’s self-conscious black humor.

    Steers invites us to share in private moments of anxious suspense or voyeuristic titillation that remain provocatively inexplicit,

    Read more
  • “Art of the Forties”

    The Museum of Modern Art

    The “Art of the Forties” show discards the blockbuster mentality that informed museum exhibitions during the ’80s; instead of the usual display of artistic triumphs that characterize such exhibitions, this show borrows from the museum’s permanent collection and interweaves a broad cross section of cultural artworks and artifacts to document the socioeconomic, esthetic, and historical concerns of this war-torn decade. The result is like paging through an old art magazine in which the masters are presented next to artists who have subsequently been pressed to the margins of art history. Exhibiting

    Read more
  • Empty Pedestals Project

    Storefront for Art and Architecture

    Some years ago, artist Marc Blane began documenting “predesignated art sites” in New York City, sites formerly occupied by heroic sculptures and ceremonial fountains commissioned during the turn-of-the-century City Beautiful Movement. Due to the vagaries of time and the wages of vandalism, these sites now stand empty. For this exhibition, Blane invited young artists and architects to design new works for several such spots, with the idea that their projects might replace the former Eurocentric, Beaux-Arts monuments with imagery capable of speaking to each area’s current, predominantly non-European

    Read more
  • Carol Hepper

    Rosa Esman Gallery

    Carol Hepper first gained recognition in the mid ’80s for her constructions of wood and animal hide, inspired by the prairie landscape of her native South Dakota. She did not receive significant critical attention, however, until she abandoned the hide, shedding her (regional) skin and adopting a sophisticated, abstract esthetic. Indeed, Hepper’s coming of age has been inextricably linked to her successful assimilation of high Modernist values, at the expense of her previous overtly personal and local tendencies. Thus her reintroduction of animal hide, in the new series of surrealistic assemblages

    Read more
  • Mary Hambleton

    Pamela Auchincloss Gallery

    Mary Hambleton continues to explore the affective potential of abstraction. As one of the talented group of American painters who have been largely responsible for reviving interest in the symbolic possibilities of abstraction, Hambleton has developed a striking pictorial language that reveals abstraction’s capacity for conveying both interior emotions and physical sensations.

    For Hambleton, painting is a window onto the profounder orders of experience; in other words, for her, painting seems to function as an effective vehicle for the mind’s eye, allowing it to attain and to hold fundamental

    Read more
  • Ben Nicholson/Reiser + Umemoto

    National Institute for Architectural Education

    The dissonances signaled by the current architectural buzzword, “domesticity” and “interiority” have influenced both abstruse theory and practical work. These tensions—between the public and private, the individual psyche and the interior environment, the home and the contaminating influence of information and media technology—animate this adventurous exhibition. In two proposals for the single-family house—the architectural laboratory where normative typology meets idiosyncratic lives—architecture provides a bulwark against the instabilities of contemporary life. These projects explore the

    Read more