reviews

  • Dexter Dalwood

    Gagosian | 522 West 21st Street

    The landmarks by means of which Dexter Dalwood maps out a cultural landscape are both recognizable and disconcerting. Paintings referring to Mao and Stalin, Bill Gates and Kurt Cobain sit alongside others devoted to Patty Hearst, Ulrike Meinhof, and Brian Jones. Like the paintings themselves, which depict unpopulated fantasy-bespoke interiors cobbled together from a variety of art and design sources, Dalwood’s choice of iconic figures is both utterly familiar and willfully idiosyncratic. People who remain vivid in the popular imagination rub shoulders with others half-forgotten. This might be

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  • Bridget Riley and Wojciech Fangor

    DIA Center for the Arts, PaceWildenstein/Mitchell Algus Gallery

    I still haven’t figured out whether the gradual shifts in tone within the nominally white ground of Bridget Riley’s Pause, 1964, are real or only apparent, chemical or optical. I am certain, though, that in her Cataract 3, 1967, the colors actually do change from top to bottom. It’s just that I can’t quite put my finger on where the shift takes place. And while I keep looking to find out—sometimes until my eyes ache, which doesn’t take long—I’m not sure I want to know. Their underlying illusionism is mental, not optical: the intimation that understanding their operations would explain

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  • Damien Hirst

    Gagosian | 522 West 21st Street

    Having entered the arena of mass-media attention occupied by such titans of overexposure as Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst can cheerfully scoff at the modest claims of art criticism. For all the brickbats hurled at him, there is the critic’s temptation to just say uncle, to agree to be amused if not absolutely charmed, to assert that, regardless of the apparent vulgarity of certain individual works, Hirst possesses that supremely uncritical attribute, “talent.” The apparent “unoriginality” of his work—its reliance on Surrealist shock techniques and Minimalist presentational

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  • Krzysztof Wodiczko

    Galerie Lelong & Co., New York

    “Like you I have longed for a memory beyond consolation, for a memory of shadows and stones.” These words (by Marguerite Duras) are delivered deadpan and lumbering by the female protagonist in the opening dialogue of Alain Resnais’s 1959 film Hiroshima, Mon Amour. Seconds later, the film displays footage of a government building that stood at the epicenter of the Hiroshima nuclear catastrophe, the ravaged husk of which has been left standing, memorialized as the A-Bomb Dome. It was this structure that Krzysztof Wodiczko chose as the site for his Hiroshima Projection, 1999, a work commissioned

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  • Jane and Louise Wilson

    303 Gallery

    In Victor Pelevin’s 1993 novel Omon Ra, a Russian boy who dreams of becoming a cosmonaut and flying to the moon gets his wish: He is accepted into the space program and even chosen to represent the Soviet Union in the space race against the United States. But what awaits young Omon isn’t glory. Instead, he finds himself surrounded by grotesques—power-hungry flight officers, aged space dogs, and cadets whose legs have been amputated to accommodate tiny cockpits. Eventually Omon learns the truth about his mission, that he is to pilot an officially “unmanned” lunar vehicle to the moon—then

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  • Bill Viola

    James Cohan Gallery | Chelsea

    Had we but world enough, and time . . . Old-master painting breathed through this show, but I also remembered the seventeenth-century poet Andrew Marvell, and the time he imagined devoting to a lover’s body: An hundred years should go to praise / Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze. The heart of the exhibition was a series of DVD tableaux vivants, playing on flat screens that hung on the wall like paintings or stood on pedestals like propped-open books. The images showed people caught in a range of emotional states—joy, anger, fear, awe, dream—and unlike paintings they moved, but at

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  • Darren Almond

    Matthew Marks Gallery | 502 W. 22nd Street

    For his first solo exhibition in New York, Darren Almond parked Mean Time, 2000, a forty-foot orange commercial cargo container, customized with a giant built-in digital clock, right in the middle of the gallery, and it took up just about all of the space. It wasn’t just the sheer bulk of the time-telling fortress that suggested a literal occupation of the place; what really held one’s attention was the relentless, mechanical noise of the flipping and flapping, clicking and clacking plates of the digital clock face keeping time. The industrial sound that echoed inside the container’s metal walls,

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  • “Street Market”

    Deitch Projects

    There’s an idea afloat these days that art movements are purely academically generated and driven by a handful of art schools. What that vision fails to account for are the exceedingly vital “fringe” movements that currently flourish at the doorstep of contemporary art: One is digital art (think Sony PlayStation 2); another is graffiti. The former is radically commercial; the latter, radically public. Both embrace the idea of the artist as hero and, occasionally, outlaw, too. Aside from a moment of brief rapture in the ’80s when graffiti artists turned their spray-paint cans to canvas (it looked

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  • Jules Olitski

    Miles McEnery Gallery | 22nd Street

    I don’t know if Jules Olitski is the greatest living painter, as Clement Greenberg once claimed, but his late works certainly offer a supreme abstract version of the “splendid manner,” a term Giovanni Pietro Bellori applied to the paintings of Nicolas Poussin in the seventeenth century. A splendid manner requires above all grand subject matter: in Poussin’s case, scenes from the Bible and Greek myth; in Olitski’s, our origins, both personal and universal, and our common end in death and (one hopes) transfiguration. Bellori considered Poussin the ultimate philosophical painter; Olitski, with

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  • Rachel Berwick

    Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

    Rachel Berwick’s art is haunted by extinction. For previous exhibitions she has cast animal death masks in amber and taught parrots a defunct Amazonian language. In her most recent show, “Hovering Close to Zero,” Berwick focused on the Tasmanian tiger, a creature that survives only in a few bones and in a sixty-second film made in the ’20s documenting the disappearing beast. The exhibition consisted of stills from the film, a series of computer-aided forensic re-creations of the tiger in resin, and a group of crystal models cast from tigers’ skulls.

    Berwick approaches questions of loss, collection,

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  • Jonathan Feldschuh

    Cynthia Broan Gallery

    In “Little Corner of the World,” his first solo show in New York, Jonathan Feldschuh exhibited twelve canvases, varying in size but consistent in their mixture of cartoonish sci-fi and romantic verve. A product of the Harvard physics department, Feldschuh has a nice feel for the fine line between microscopic and cosmic conceptions of space and good instincts for the salutary effect of elegance on silliness (and vice versa).

    Feldschuh alternates layers of acrylic paint with Cluck coats of clear medium, so that the final image reads as a series of laminated tissues, each one at once obscuring and

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  • Tom Wood

    Thomas Erben Gallery

    For seventeen years, Irish-horn Tom Wood took photographs while riding local buses around Liverpool, across the Mersey from his current home. What’s immediately apparent in the nineteen selections recently on view from Wood’s “Bus Project,” 1979-96, is how much more fluid his approach is than the current conventions of post-Conceptual photography or photojournalism dictate. Eschewing the antithetical forms of simplification specific to programmatic typologies on the one hand and commodified empathy on the other, Wood’s eye expresses itself through elaboration rather than encapsulation, expansion

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  • Aïda Ruilova

    White Columns

    According to the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, it is cinema more than any other art that enhances and prolongs a meager dose of time, but I suspect many of us think of music as the essential art of remolding duration and distorting the regularities of the clock. Aïda Ruilova draws on both: Her conception of video is indebted more to the montage-based aesthetic of cinema than to painting or sculpture, in which so much video work remains tacitly rooted, and she uses images of things like records and musical instruments not only to mention sound itself but also to draw our attention to the

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  • Acharaya Vyakul

    Lawrence Markey

    It would be a mistake to read Acharaya Vyakul’s luminous work as naive or folksy. Vyakul, who died in May at sixtynine, was no “outsider”; he was a tantric scholar and Sanskritist, a learned and avid collector of devices used in magic and ritual, and a founder of what has become the richest private museum of folk and tantric art in India. Though initially unassuming, his paintings are serious, sensual, even interrogative; from a Western standpoint, they are successful, spare abstractions (loosely akin to Klee’s or Kandinsky’s) in which chance operations produce subtle details of stroke and

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