reviews

  • Ashley Bickerton

    Sonnabend Gallery

    In a kind of twisted echo of Gilligan’s Island, the ’70s sitcom chronicling the misadventures of seven lost souls shipwrecked on a desert isle, Ashley Bickerton’s latest paintings chart the misfortunes of a truly dysfunctional group of castaways set against an exotic backdrop inspired by the Indonesian terrain where he has lived and worked for the last three years. If Gilligan and his cohorts held tight to the trappings of civilization, inventing contraptions to ease their makeshift life and rarely mixing with the natives, Bickerton’s motley crew pass their days and nights not far out of step

    Read more
  • Nari Ward

    Deitch Projects

    A complex compression of a complex relationship, Nari Ward’s Happy Smilers: Duty-Free Shopping, 1996, examined not only what it means for a New Yorker to visit the West Indies but what it means for a West Indian to live in New York. This rich installation opened as a dig at tourism, with an anteroom painted a cheerful yellow and hung with empty plastic soda bottles, including a drink called Tropical Fantasy and island music courtesy of the Happy Smilers, a long-ago Jamaican band (Ward’s uncle sang in it) whose name today seems a knowing parody of Aunt Jemima stereotypes. Fine, but rather obvious;

    Read more
  • Mimmo Paladino

    Sperone Westwater

    Mimmo Paladino is a master of the “archaic,” of what have come to seem rather outdated forms: geometrical abstraction makes a grand appearance in one untitled tour de force, while the human face and figure (almost all are religious icons painted black) appear repeatedly in another work. The series of diptychs “La Sera dei Miracoli” (The evening of miracles, 1996) is typical of the works in this show: it harks back to those secondary scenes in medieval altarpieces that tell the story of saint’s lives and the miracles they performed. Whereas in altarpieces these scenes flank a holy figure, in “La

    Read more
  • Blake Rayne

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    Entering Blake Rayne’s recent show, you squeezed past a large Styrofoam “cube/crate” that partially blocked off the main exhibition space yet did not, in itself, command any particular notice. Each of the four walls displayed a single painting, mounted on an intermediate plywood support rather than directly on the wall. Less noticeably, the lower portion of the gallery’s imposing central column was painted with a high-gloss white acrylic, and a small diagram was painted onto the wall near the entrance to the office. The four paintings represented interior spaces that are empty or nearly empty,

    Read more
  • Squeak Carnwath

    David Beitzel Gallery

    O-o-oh, California, la-la-la. . . .

    Squeak Carnwath’s paintings speak clearly of that other coast, at least to a provincial New Yorker who knows of it only what he reads. She also makes me think of Joni Mitchell circa 1971: not yet completely posthippie, but with a gorgeous command that clashes with her pose of naiveté. Carnwath, I suspect, knows that her nonart ideas—her philosophical thumb-suckers, her Eastern mysticism, her fretting over ecology, her generalized upset with violence, misogyny, intolerance, and the whole caboodle of things she calls “bad stuff”—demand some kind of subtlety of

    Read more
  • Toba Khedoori

    David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street

    It’s impossible to say what exactly Toba Khedoori does. Or rather, what exactly she draws when she draws. You could say, for instance, that she places huge sheets of paper on a studio floor, and then thinly covers them with wax. You could point out that they start out white, but don’t, of course, stay that way: apart from the wax (which is clear) and the images themselves, there are also stains and hairs and lines that go nowhere. You could mention that this detritus skitters like graffiti across her urban and industrial nonplaces, and, in her recent drawings, over meticulously rendered empty

    Read more
  • Michael Ashkin

    Bronwyn Keenan Gallery

    In a certain sense, the single most important thing informing Michael Ashkin’s psycho-hobbyist dioramas is the fact that he grew up in New Jersey. He makes scale models of the parts of Jersey everyone likes to make fun of: the toxic industrial zones where nature has more or less packed it in and been replaced by decaying trucks and refineries, nasty smelling gasses and strange balls of flame. As for people, they come in machines, or not at all. The particular chunk of wasteland reproduced in #33, 1996, is a straight stretch of highway, bordered by a string of power lines, that runs through an

    Read more
  • Dan Peterman

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Dan Peterman’s 4 Ton Vertical Storage, 1996, was a multifaceted and surprisingly deceptive work. Upon entering the gallery, one confronted a massive “wall” of green brick that extended all the way to the ceiling, slicing through the space like one of Richard Serra’s arcs of Cor-Ten steel. Walking around it, one discovered that what appeared to be a solid wall was in fact an interlocking hollow mass of modular units: a facade made of stacked empty storage bins that Peterman fabricated from planks of postconsumer, reprocessed plastic. This bank faced another floor-to-ceiling arrangement of storage

    Read more
  • Diti Almog

    Marianne Boesky Gallery

    “Look at it this way,” Diti Almog’s meticulously rendered paintings seemed to want to say, the “it” in question being the painted work, adjacent downsized or oversized “copies” of that work’s component parts, and the gallery space that contains all of the above. The Israeli artist presented near-pristine white wood panels punctuated by horizontal or vertical stripes or boxes of various colors, while also re-presenting details of the same painting in scaled-up or -down versions. This act of repetition and self-appropriation blurred distinctions—between part and whole, inside and outside, original

    Read more
  • Jane Dickson

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Jane Dickson’s recent exhibition featured eight tall, narrow oilstick drawings on canvas and linen, and three oil and Roll-A-Tex paintings, showing Times Square side streets, the views and surroundings from the artist’s former office-turned-studio on West 43rd Street. The subjects are men eyeing women, men eyeing men, policemen stopping suspects, and other vignettes, seen in front of liquor stores and sex emporiums on empty late-night streets. With their high vantage points and steep foreshortening, they seem to have been painted from Dickson’s windows. A strip joint, Paradise Alley, lent its

    Read more
  • Jan Zakrzewski

    TZ Art & Co.

    For the last 25 years Jan Zakrzewski (formerly Vladimir Jan Zakrzewski) has oscillated between examining the legacy of Constructivism and making figurative paintings with conceptual overtones. Although Zakrzewski’s oeuvre has occasionally veered toward the ephemeral and as a whole may seem somewhat erratic (in the early ’70s, he made documentary films and staged happenings), it has always engaged in an “esthetic play” that allows him to explore the processes of memory, fantasy, and identification.

    The muted quality of this exhibition masked a painful reconstitution of artistic identity, a careful

    Read more
  • Barbara Gallucci

    Lauren Wittels Gallery

    For the past several years Barbara Gallucci has worked primarily with commercially fabricated carpet in her installations of variable dimensions. Wryly making analogies between Minimalist sculpture—particularly Robert Morris’ felt pieces—and office-building culture, she turns a passive, downtrodden material into an aggressive architectural element that rolls across floors at odd angles, climbs up walls, or hangs from ceilings in giant loops while mapping the parallels between Minimalism and kitschy commercial design. Unlike the classics of Minimalist sculpture, which attempted to maintain a

    Read more
  • Janice Krasnow

    Jose Freire

    The neutral “look” of first-generation text-based Conceptual art may today seem as stylized, even stylish, as a Chanel dress. In her first one-person show, Janice Krasnow presented a revival of the classic Conceptualist sign, black text on white ground, in modest paintings that brought home the fact that neutrality and morphology are contradictory terms. In place of the Conceptualist’s decidedly serious and philosophical bent, however, Krasnow opted for a tone both offbeat and poetic. Her concise descriptions of subjects that nevertheless fail to take form in the viewer’s imagination address

    Read more
  • Steve Keister

    Bill Maynes Gallery

    “Interstitial Archaeology,” Steve Keister’s first solo show in New York since 1988, consisted of five exceptionally thoughtful sculptures, all of which sprang from either positive or negative casts of Styrofoam packaging. They also alluded in some way to Meso-American architecture of the pre-Colombian periods, and were installed, in a nod to the bas-reliefs and temple icons of those civilizations, so as to interact with the physical structure of the gallery.

    A positive cast in green polyester resin of the packaging for a camcorder, Xochipilli, 1996, was affixed to the gallery wall with wooden

    Read more