reviews

  • Charlie White

    Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Most viewers will associate Los Angeles–based photographer Charlie White with his distinctive brand of cinematic conceptual photography, one that—particularly early in his career—often married Hollywood production values to a giddily overripe psychosexual imagination. White made his name as the auteur behind the 1996 “Femalien” series—a thoroughly silly set of sci-fi soft-core pix—and a few years later produced the considerably more substantive “Understanding Joshua,” 2000, in which the eponymous antihero, a sad-sack homunculus, makes his way through a landscape of suburban parties and unsatisfying

    Read more
  • Merlin James

    Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

    It has often been observed that Merlin James’s solo shows look like group shows, and this twenty-year survey proved the point, with a full range of painterly genres—seascape, landscape, portrait, erotic, interior, still life—on display, as well as variations in style ranging from dark impasto on misshapen, detritus-strewn canvases to smoother, Fauvish studies. James’s imagery is so calculatedly disparate as to deny not only the coherence lent by shared authorship but the very possibility of narrative. Indeed, his work, perhaps inadvertently, conveys more than a hint of the problematics of meaning

    Read more
  • Polly Apfelbaum

    D'Amelio Gallery

    Trends in contemporary art come and go with brisk regularity, yet pushing the boundaries between painting and sculpture is a perennial fascination. Polly Apfelbaum surfs this never-breaking wave with consummate skill, making “bi-formalism” a leitmotif of her floor-bound fabric installations, which have sometimes been referred to as “fallen paintings.” For much of the past decade, this painterly allusion has been grounded in Apfelbaum’s quasi-Expressionist patterning of high-intensity color on synthetic velvet. The cartoonlike floral images that animate her most recent installations flash back

    Read more
  • Stanley Brouwn

    Yvon Lambert New York

    This exhibition was Stanley Brouwn’s first New York outing since 2002, although a clutch of recent European shows indicate his gradual reappearance on the institutional radar over the past few years. Brouwn never really disappeared; he’s just notoriously reclusive (no photographs, no reproductions, no interviews) and, to judge from the international locales referenced in the work on view, always on the move. He continues to make diagrammatic drawings that employ the units of measurement—based on the proportions of his own body—that he developed in the early 1960s, but the fifteen works on view

    Read more
  • Nicola Tyson

    Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

    Nicola Tyson’s most recent show came with an epigraph, declaimed by the press release: “IMAGINATION I hold to be the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception. . . . A repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM.” Thus Tyson’s twelve new paintings, which purport to plumb the depths of “the imagination and the unconscious,” were brought under the Romantic sign of the lines’ author, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This reference deftly marks out Tyson’s ambitions here, but it’s only the beginning of the hunt for her sources and stylistic influences.

    Read more
  • Joseph Grigely

    Cohan and Leslie

    A typical work by Joseph Grigely comprises bits of paper pinned to a wall, each one scribbled with a snatch of conversation. These scraps—napkins, envelopes, notebook pages—are presented in formal, snowflake-like arrangements, but their motley shapes and finishes suggest that they are incidental as objects; they simply came to hand while Grigely, who lost his hearing as a child, was scrawl-chatting with a friend. What counts is the sense of just-missed implication: the casual “tone” expressed by loopy or cramped handwriting; the cryptic phrases whose in-jokey resonance is kept though their sense

    Read more
  • Kim Levin

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    “I make lists of things to do and follow them. Lately, my pocket calendar doesn’t seem adequate, so I’ve taken to making out a list on a new three-by-five card every two or three days. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to cross an item off the list. The items even include things like ‘studio,’ which simply means go to the studio that day and paint.” The words are Peter Plagens’s, from a 2005 lecture at the University of Southern California, but they might just as easily have been uttered by Kim Levin.

    Except that Levin doesn’t even paint—she’s “just” a veteran New York critic and curator—though

    Read more
  • Sharon Hayes

    Art in General

    The title of Sharon Hayes’s new five-channel video installation, After Before, 2005, seems utterly opaque until it suddenly makes sense. Shown at Art in General a full year after the 2004 presidential election but filmed two months prior to George W. Bush’s dubious reelection, it effects a kind of anticipation of a time already long gone. Indeed, the work, which documents the travails of two young microphone-wielding women as they scour the streets of New York City in search of “public opinion,” is charged with a very particular set of anxieties, hopes, and suspicions that feel at once prescient

    Read more
  • Michael François

    Bortolami Dayan

    Encountering an exhibition that eschews color, hints at violence, and deploys symbols most often associated with nationalism, one tends to expect political critique. This show, Michel François’s first New York solo in five years, boasted all of these attributes but stripped them of their usual associations.

    With its predominant use of anarchists’ favorite color, a militaristic-sounding title, “Theater of Operations,” and the prominence of motifs such as a flag and an eagle, one could be forgiven for likening François’s show to those of younger European artists like Marc Bijl, Gardar Eide

    Read more
  • Felix Schramm

    Grimm/Rosenfeld

    German artist Felix Schramm’s New York solo debut comprised primarily a single gallery-filling sculpture. Comber, 2005, was an impressive feat of intentional disarray. Set into—and seemingly bursting forth from—a raised platform, a lowered ceiling, and a specially built wall that slightly constricted the dimensions of the main room, it featured a structural armature made from splintered two-by-fours mostly covered by ripped sheets of painted drywall. These walls, jutting out at sharp angles, formed seductive, visually balanced planes of blue, orange, and gray that nicely counterbalanced the

    Read more
  • Bruno Peinado

    Parker's Box/Swiss Institute–Contemporary Art

    Having landed simultaneous exhibitions in Manhattan and Brooklyn, French artist Bruno Peinado took advantage of the geographical opposition to launch a site-specific investigation of duality, reflection, and inversion. Although the two shows were discrete entities, they became decidedly more interesting when viewed in relation to one another.

    “Why Style,” Peinado’s exhibition at the Swiss Institute, riffed on Wild Style, Charlie Ahearn’s 1982 docudrama about the budding hip-hop movement in the South Bronx. Untitled, Vanity Flight Case, 2005, loomed totemically at the center of the pitch-black

    Read more
  • Miki Carmi

    57 STUX + Haller Gallery

    The curious thing about Miki Carmi’s recent portraits of his mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa is their apparent redundancy: each looks more or less the same as the next, confirming that they are members of one close-knit or even inbred family. All have bald, bulblike heads, and eyes that stare fixedly, stubbornly, to the left or right. There are some physical differences—skin tones range from chalk white to a ruddy pink, lips from thin to full, eyebrows from lowered to raised—but these don’t count for much, expressively. The figures seem to have the same mind-set and limited emotional range—there

    Read more
  • Mary Mattingly

    Robert Mann Gallery

    In a statement posted on the wall in her recent exhibition at Robert Mann Gallery, Mary Mattingly voiced a few concerns driving her new body of work. “I think about technology,” she writes, “the constant mediator between you and me. . . . As technology expands exponentially, we will reach a point where we exist as wanderers in our own worlds, participants in simulated communities.” She goes on: “I think about mobility—how it will become necessary for us to be able to move freely with no ties to a permanent home, due to environmental changes and the necessity to participate in a global economy.”

    Read more
  • Shinique Smith

    The Proposition

    Walking among Shinique Smith’s boxy sculptures is like wandering through an abandoned city in which the presence of those who have vanished is still palpable. Some of the works are tall and solid, as imposing and insistent as memorial stelae; others are small and square, the kind of things you’re likely to trip over, like the gravestones of children. The fact that all these sculptures are made of bundled clothes and other cast-offs—old skirts and stray pom-poms, garbage bags and action figures, even a T-shirt bearing the logo for the 2004 Armory Show—adds a suggestion of compound narrative,

    Read more