new-york

Dirk Bell

Gavin Brown's enterprise | 620 Greenwich Street

That painting might be something like a map of the mind is an old cliché, and the homunculus theory—the notion that art is the product of an anthropomorphized subconscious—is mustier still. But in Dirk Bell’s most recent New York show, “Openeng,” these hoary concepts played to savvy effect. Insisting upon a nonspectacularized yet highly choreographed installation, Bell turned the design into a visual argument in which found paintings—many more than a century old—facilitated a shift from the retrospective to the fantastical. (This passage was also figured through Openeng, 2008, the namesake work, which appeared in the first gallery: a teardrop-shaped sliver of a dilapidated oil landscape pasted to the wall. Despite its pockmarked surface, and the fact that it is nothing more than a little snippet of canvas excerpted from some other old painting for which words like kitsch are too easy, the

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the April 2008 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.