reviews

  • Moyra Davey, Les Goddesses, 2011, still from a color video, 61 minutes.

    Moyra Davey

    Murray Guy

    Toronto-born photographer—or, to use a term more common north of the forty-fifth parallel, Photoconceptualist—Moyra Davey has been quietly at work in New York for more than twenty years, garnering a strong fan base among fellow artists, more recently coming to broader attention. Her recent show in New York, irresistibly titled “Spleen. Indolence. Torpor. Ill-humour.,” was essentially a meditation on the presence and absence of the human figure before the camera, articulated in three parts: the approximately hour-long HD video Les Goddesses, 2011 (which was also screened in April as

    Read more
  • Paul Graham, Vesey Street, 25th May 2010, 5.51.05 PM, diptych, color photographs, overall 4' 8“ x 12' 4 1/2”.

    Paul Graham

    Pace | 32 East 57th Street

    Explaining to an interviewer why he called his recent show “The Present,” Paul Graham said the name was a reminder of photography’s “struggle to deal with time and life. Sometimes I think those are our materials. Not film, not paper, not prints: time and life.” The idea that the subject of photography—time and life—is also its material, and in a more primary way than its physical paraphernalia can be, is one that Graham has addressed in the past by photographing in series, and in his most recent work, a selection of which appeared in this exhibition (at Pace, but co-organized with

    Read more
  • Robert Overby, What Else is Important, 1981, oil on canvas, 22 1/2 x 18".

    Robert Overby

    Fredericks & Freiser/Andrew Kreps Gallery

    Though lacking the letters patent conferred upon the original Ferus Gallery crowd, Robert Overby—who began as a notable graphic designer—has entered the West Coast canon, if rather circuitously. Overby’s late paintings, which date to the last fifteen years of a short life (he died of Hodgkin’s disease in 1993 at the age of 58), are hardly the most original of his works, but they fill in a critical chapter with regard to his growing posthumous rank.

    In “Painting from the ’80s”—an exhibition staged by Fredericks & Freiser and Andrew Kreps—Overby’s sense of composition (“layout”

    Read more
  • View of “Tom Burr,” 2012.

    Tom Burr

    Bortolami Gallery

    Reading through recent interviews with Tom Burr—whose second show at Bortolami, “Deep Wood Drive,” provided another persuasive demonstration of the artist’s elegaic, conceptually assured sculptures and scenarios—several recurring lines of questioning begin to emerge. Most of them are predictable enough: How does Burr locate his practice within the legacy of Minimalism? What draws him to the personae of the kinds of cultural figures—among them Truman Capote, Frank O’Hara, and Jim Morrison—that so often figure in his work? In what ways do queer politics inform his choices of

    Read more
  • Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 2009–11, oil and paper on canvas, 82 3/4 x 105 3/8".

    Albert Oehlen

    Gagosian | 522 West 21st Street

    In the 1980s, Albert Oehlen began exploiting hackneyed figuration to exquisitely perverse effect, thereby rendering “bad painting” an unassailable good object. By the end of that decade, he had mounted a reaction-formation-like foray into pure abstraction that was equally, if oppositely, estranging. These approaches are two sides of the same coin, yet the artist nevertheless took some time to hold them in tension, together. In his work of the past few years—including the seventeen canvases in this show, his first at Gagosian—they finally intermingle, a critical collusion that, no doubt,

    Read more
  • Enrico David, Light Days, 2012, polystyrene, polyurethane foam, copper, tissue paper, watercolor, bone, 67 x 80 3/4 x 15 3/4". Michael Werner Gallery.

    Enrico David

    Michael Werner Gallery/New Museum

    The body is supposed to decay. It’s supposed to ooze, deliquesce, attract carnivorous insects, and unto dust return. A sculpture in Enrico David’s exhibition at Michael Werner imagines what happens when it doesn’t. Bog-Piper, 2012, takes the form of a massive nerve ending—a dendrite the size of a room—that has petrified rather than putrefied, hardened into a brittle, blackened fossil. A synecdoche for the human form, the nerve’s tendrils, made from copper wire covered with painted tissue paper, bunch together to form a stem, which rises off the ground and terminates in a papier-mâché

    Read more
  • Jacqueline Humphries, Untitled, 2012, oil on canvas, 90 x 96".

    Jacqueline Humphries

    Greene Naftali Gallery

    In our troubled economy, some people are putting their money into gold. How’s silver doing? In her latest series of abstract paintings, Jacqueline Humphries continues to mine the pictorial and affective valences of silver metallic paint, which appears as the ground in all the pictures. Humphries is someone for whom the political and philosophical questions of representation matter—a critical rather than unambiguously “feeling” type. But vivid, even uncomfortable feelings continue to pull at you, to nag in spectral and parodistic ways. The element of parody does not evacuate emotion;

    Read more
  • Harry Dodge, Fred Can Never Be Called Bald, 2011, still from a color video, 39 minutes 56 seconds.

    Harry Dodge

    Wallspace

    Intro to Logic, freshman year, college. I recall these sentences on the blackboard: “God is love. Love is blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Therefore Stevie Wonder is God.” The example was given as the epitome of fallacy, illustrating, that is, a breach of reason while appearing to maintain reason’s very form. Such sleights of hand, we learned, are identified easily enough yet are surprisingly pervasive (and persuasive). While nonsensical, they can be steeped in such emotional or affective content that their inaccuracy goes unnoticed or, more to the point, feels inherently correct despite obvious

    Read more
  • Alex Bag and Patterson Beckwith, Cash from Chaos/Unicorns & Rainbows, 1994–97/2011, still from an eight-channel video installation, combined duration 458 minutes.

    Alex Bag and Patterson Beckwith

    Team Gallery | Grand Street

    Between 1994 and 1997, Alex Bag and Patterson Beckwith produced sixty-odd hours of two public-access cable-TV shows, Cash from Chaos and Unicorns & Rainbows. Their recent exhibition condensed it all to 458 minutes. The installation looked like a children’s playroom crossed with a media-conglomerate viewing room mocked up by IKEA. Walls were painted glowing blue-screen blue, with a mural of test-pattern color bars at one end. Oversize red beanbags, gray-and-red hanging pod-chairs, and red shag carpet invited visitors to veg out before eight cube monitors on the floor. It looked innocuous, but

    Read more
  • Peter Saul, Peter Saul vs. Pop Art, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 75 x 72".

    Peter Saul

    Mary Boone Gallery | Uptown

    Peter Saul’s paintings are clever, witty, ironic—and nasty. In Peter Saul vs. Pop Art, 2012, a grimacing, sweating figure—a representation of the artist himself—uses a chain saw to cut into a can of CAMPBELL’S TOMATO SOUP, clearly a reference to Warhol’s work. In a further act of destruction, Campbell’s is spelled “Cambell,” suggesting the childishness or perhaps faux naïveté of Pop artists; they don’t know how to spell, let alone copy. cambell tomato soup is hand-written—clumsily, even crudely—and the word CONDENSED may acknowledge the cheap artificiality of the soup,

    Read more
  • Max Gimblett, The Holy Grail, 2009, mixed media on canvas, 90 x 90".

    Max Gimblett

    Gary Snyder Gallery

    This was New Zealand–born, New York–based Max Gimblett’s first solo show in several years, and his first at this gallery. It included thirty-three paintings produced in the past nine years, canvases dense with associations that spanned the globe. They revealed, among other interests, the artist’s familiarity with Japanese calligraphy, Jungian psychology, and the practice of Buddhism.

    Gimblett’s palette is one reason the works resonate so widely. Fluorescent, explosive colors, such as fuchsia and acid green, call to mind Warhol’s screenprints. Incandescent gold and red suggest Tibetan Buddhist

    Read more
  • Mamiko Otsubo, Untitled (Glass Horizon with Ball), 2012, glass, rubber ball, wood, museum board, 24 x 18 1/2 x 2 1/2".

    Mamiko Otsubo

    Sean Horton (presents)

    A sculpture called Equivalent, 2012, neatly sums up the premise of Mamiko Otsubo’s exhibition. The work is partly composed of used copies of a mass-market edition of the 1946 book Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein, which the artist has laid out on the floor in neat rows. Toward one end of the arrangement, cast-silicone tablets stand in for the books. A rose is a rose is a rose—or is it? What precisely constitutes an equivalent? In search of possible answers, Otsubo creates relationships between things that are approximately the same, tying them together with loose association, puns, and

    Read more
  • Beryl Korot, Text and Commentary (detail), 1976–77, five-channel black-and-white video (30 minutes), weavings, drawings. Installation View.

    Beryl Korot

    bitforms gallery

    Nearly forty years ago, Beryl Korot began a long-term, ongoing affair with three seemingly unrelated media: textile, print, and video. At the time, she was an editor of the seminal Radical Software, a magazine that she cofounded, and was involved with producing some of the first multichannel video installations, such as Dachau, 1974.

    In her 1978 essay “Video and the Loom,” Korot notes the homology among television’s interlaced signal, the loom’s systematic encoding of pattern or image into cloth, and the way in which language is printed: All happen line by line. Likening woven elements to linguistic

    Read more
  • William Anastasi, Sink, 1963, rusted steel, water, 20 x 20 x 1/2". From “Notations: The Cage Effect Today.”

    “Notations: The Cage Effect Today”

    Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery, Hunter College

    No study of composer John Cage’s legacy would be complete without acknowledging his own influences and frequent collaborations. In the case of visual-art practices, his work with Robert Rauschenberg looms largest. Indeed, in Hunter College’s exhibition “Notations: The Cage Effect Today,” organized by Joachim Pissarro with the help of an international group of curators (Bibi Calderaro, Julio Grinblatt, and Michelle Yun), Rauschenberg is a silent but dominant partner in the proceedings.

    Cage credited Rauschenberg, whom he met in New York in 1951 and worked with at Black Mountain College and beyond,

    Read more
  • Seth Kim-Cohen, KRAUT-SOUL!, 2012. Performance view, March 31, 2012.

    Seth Kim-Cohen

    Audio Visual Arts (AVA)

    KILL “KILL YOUR IDOLS.” YEAH YEAH YEAHS, LIARS, BLACK DICE: WHATEVER. TRULY RADICAL ANTI-ROCK. LIKE A CINDER BLOCK FROM THE 10TH STORY WINDOW. GROOVES. SLASHING GUITARS. FED UP SAMPLERS. TAKE DOWN THE CORPORATACRACY. ANY GENDER, AGE, RACE, PROFICIENCY. Seth Kim-Cohen’s classified ad, headed POST-POSTPUNK, NEW NO WAVE, defines its territory in strident but slippery terms, adopting a defiant pose while leaving room for interpretation. Originally posted in the “Musicians” section of Craigslist, then displayed outside Audio Visual Arts for the duration of Kim-Cohen’s “social-situational project” “

    Read more