new-york

“Remote Viewing: Invented Worlds in Recent Painting and Drawing”

Whitney Museum of American Art

Artists are an opinionated bunch, so one often wonders what those included in group exhibitions think of the context in which their work has been placed. Sometimes I imagine they feel lucky; on other occasions dismayed. “Remote Viewing” triggered the latter suspicion. For while the venue was distinguished and each artist was afforded adequate space, the show’s close focus on certain traits in contemporary painting made some of the artists look more like trendy copyists than unique practitioners. Curator Elisabeth Sussman strove to identify several symptoms in recent practice: abstraction with traces of representation or “referentiality,” spiral compositions coupled with bright, “assertive” color, and the use of science, technology, or religion to generate “structure while retaining little identifiable residual information.”

The artist who best fit this scheme was Julie Mehretu. In fact,

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