reviews

  • Banks Violette

    Team/Gladstone Gallery

    One could hardly have invented better publicity: The opening of Banks Violette’s summer doubleheader at Team and Gladstone Gallery—his first solo show in a New York gallery since 2002—was delayed due to mysterious “technical difficulties” involving not just the forces of darkness but also those of propane gas and liquid nitrogen. “The work set fire to the gallery!” ran the breathless rumor, and while the reality may have been more prosaic, the scene was set. It was a little disappointing, then, to find Violette in solid but entirely predictable form, no more or less “extreme” than on his previous

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  • Tom Meacham

    Oliver Kamm/5BE Gallery

    Tom Meacham’s second solo exhibition at Oliver Kamm/5BE Gallery was sharp in several senses of the word. A cleanly designed installation of starkly graphic paintings juxtaposed with mass-produced objects, it had the measured visual elegance of a bespoke suit. That the objects in question were assault knives—in a variety of colors and sizes ranging from the almost cute to the unarguably intimidating—made a more literal connection. And while it is debatable that the show’s conceptual underpinnings deserved the above descriptor quite so unequivocally (they were a little too open-ended for that),

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  • Blinky Palermo

    Zwirner & Wirth

    A selection of prints and multiples that Blinky Palermo made in the ’70s, on view recently at Zwirner & Wirth, demonstrated that while the artist employed heterogeneous media and processes, he consistently took as his point of departure early-twentieth-century models of abstraction. Palermo’s exploration of a range of disciplines, including sculpture and architecture, was arguably, at least as he approached it, somewhat idiosyncratic in the ’60s and ’70s, when many artists were concentrating on the refinement of highly focused practices developed within such genres and subgenres as Pop and

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  • Luigi Otani

    Bortolami Gallery

    At first glance, Italian artist Luigi Ontani’s recent solo exhibition seemed to fit neatly into the ongoing saga of his career, which has been defined by a flamboyant, if ironic, interweaving of art and life. Here were early photographic tableaux vivants peopled by medieval knights and Olympian gods (scantily clad and expressing a playfully androgynous sexuality), a set of large new lenticular prints in which a fully dressed Ontani wears or plays with masks, and a glittering spiral of ceramic sculptures of the artist’s own ornate Oriental slippers and snakeskin boots. The fancy footwear connected

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  • Barbara Bloom

    Tracy Williams, Ltd.

    Tracy Williams operates one of the few New York gallery spaces that could still be described as charming. Visitors must duck into a diminutive, below-ground-level doorway before being escorted into the first of two rambling floors of a Greenwich Village brownstone. To remark that the space still bears a tangible whiff of domesticity simply by virtue of its rooms’ scale and design would be an understatement. Yet this willful lack of neutrality does more than spark nostalgia for a less uniform New York art world. Williams has crafted a program of exhibitions by artists whose practices are well

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  • Martin Beck

    Orchard

    The title of Martin Beck’s exhibition at Orchard—“The details are not the details”—is a quotation from Charles Eames, whose thought concludes with the assertion that, indeed, details are hardly mere accoutrements but themselves “make the product. The connections, the connections, the connections.” Beck, who (often in collaboration with Julie Ault) has long been engaged in plumbing the material, historical, and ideological specificities of exhibition practices, structures his own as a kind of hymnal to the detail par excellence: not just connections but literal connectors (system connector joints,

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  • Jason Meadows

    Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

    Considering that Paris Hilton, Richard Pryor, and porn star Nikki Nova have all played the role of subject for Jason Meadows in the past decade, and that the Los Angeles–based artist’s last exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery was titled after a Captain Beefheart album, the cultural references in his fourth solo outing there seemed almost quaint. The leitmotifs of “Frame Narrative” were two classics of that literary device in which one story contains or structures another, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Frankenstein. Lewis Carroll and Mary Shelley, like Meadows, consider the marvel—and

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  • Robin Rhode

    Perry Rubenstein Gallery

    Though much of his work depends on performance, South African artist Robin Rhode’s recent exhibition at Perry Rubenstein Gallery comprised elegant sculpture, photography, and film that functions independently of the action that gave birth to it. Spade, 2007, for example, is a small cast of a shovel in gold-plated bronze. A succinct fusion of the rarefied and the quotidian, it mutely avers that value lies in the doing as much as in what gets done. Empties, 2007, comprises a Carling beer crate filled with hand-blown dark green bottles whose fragile stems are gracefully elongated to human height

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  • assume vivid astro focus

    John Connelly Presents

    Insinuating its groovy self into every conceivable nook and cranny of the gallery, the most recent manifestation of assume vivid astro focus—the zany lowercase nom de jeu of Brazilian artist/impresario Eli Sudbrack, as well as the moniker for the shifting cohort of artists and performers with whom he collaborates in his extravagantly heterogeneous practice—once again confirmed the group’s special affinity for the surface of things.

    Avaf’s methodology revolves around deconstructing a certain ravey psychedelic milieu and then recombining its stylistic and temperamental elements in an attempt to

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  • Ricci Albenda

    Andrew Kreps Gallery

    Ricci Albenda’s bifurcated practice encompasses architectural interventions and paintings of brightly colored words set against neutral grounds. His last solo exhibition at Andrew Kreps Gallery featured six of these text paintings, which, while attractive enough, have limited appeal beyond a simple linguistic and chromatic playfulness. In this show, however, the artist revisited the other aspect of his practice and successfully expanded on it.

    Panoramic Portal to Another Dimension (Deanna) (all works 2007) is a seamless distortion of the gallery’s north wall in wood, plaster, and white acrylic

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  • Eric Baudelaire

    Elizabeth Dee Gallery

    Any number of artists have fetishized the tropes of cinematic fiction. Consider the prestidigitations of, for instance, Gregory Crewdson, Charlie White, or Francesco Vezzoli. The young Eric Baudelaire could be considered another, though his sober political aims place him on a different trajectory. (In this regard, Jeff Wall’s work is perhaps more resonant.) Baudelaire often takes pleasure in Hollywood verity, but he uses the artificial setting of his photographs and videos as a means to explore the production and reception of images in the wake of war and catastrophe. Simulation, both as topic

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  • David Lamelas

    Maccarone | 630 Greenwich Street

    Of the many contradictions that inflect “A New Refutation of Time” (1944–47), Jorge Luis Borges’s critique of idealist philosophies, perhaps the greatest comes last: “The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges.” Prior to this line, Borges uses the measured logic of philosophers like George Berkeley—who claims that matter and the self do not exist outside perceptual parameters—to argue that temporal succession is also a mental construct. Borges, however, makes an endgame of idealist doctrine, commandeering its terms in order to negate it, thus reinstating an “irreversible and

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  • Zoe Strauss

    Silverstein Gallery

    Philadelphia-based photographer Zoe Strauss’s first New York solo show might be described as the art-world equivalent of Sylvester Stallone’s run up the art-museum steps: a life-affirming, fist-pumping, I am here! performance. (As she elegantly put it, “A super fancy gallery in Chelsea? Fuck yeah! It was awesome.”) But lest the ethos be wholly, or even principally, buoyant, her exhibition’s title, “If you reading this”—culled from a graffiti-plastered wall, captured in the first work on view, which reads in its blunt entirety, IF YOU READING THIS FUCK YOU—expediently brought things down to earth,

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  • Julianne Swartz

    Josée Bienvenu Gallery

    Julianne Swartz’s sculpture is often made out of materials one might acquire from a hardware store—wire, cement blocks, PVC piping—but these commonplace components are transformed into objects that mimic human processes of communication and connection.

    In a set of seven sculptures, clock mechanisms embedded in concrete blocks move fragile-seeming constructions of wire and string around in slow, small circles. Some of these inch around with an insectoid furtiveness close to the floor, while others, more vertically oriented, respond to viewers’ footsteps like ultrasensitive antennae. But while the

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