reviews

  • Zoe Leonard, December 3, frame 3, 2011–12, gelatin silver print, 30 1/2 x 24 3/4".

    Zoe Leonard

    Murray Guy

    Moving. It’s a word that, used to describe artworks, risks cliché, to say nothing of dangerously separating affective responses from intellectual ones. Yet for the past three decades, Zoe Leonard has honed a practice that calls for and complicates this slippery denomination: In her first solo show in a New York gallery since 2003, she even employed the literal valence of the word. She rendered Murray Guy’s newly expanded Chelsea space a giant camera obscura, conjuring a vast, continually changing image. Emptying the room while filling it lushly to the brim, she shuttered its windows, refusing

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  • Louise Fishman, Blonde Ambition, 1995, oil on linen, 90 x 65".

    Louise Fishman

    Cheim & Read

    The 1973 work that greeted visitors to Tilton Gallery’s miniretrospective of Louise Fishman’s paintings declares its maker as someone with an ax to grind: The phrase ANGRY LOUISE is scrawled graffiti style across the surface, framed by athletic strokes of crimson and teal and the words SERIOUS and RAGE. Then part of a New York–based feminist consciousness-raising collective, she was lamenting the critical and institutional sidelining of women artists; other works in the same 1973 series honor Jenny Snider (Angry Jenny) and Yvonne Rainer (Angry Yvonne). Fishman felt the blackballing acutely,

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  • View of “Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe,” 2012.

    Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe

    Marlborough Contemporary | New York

    It’s safe to say that no one will ever accuse Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe of lacking ambition. Over the past six years, the artist team has created (and, in a few cases, re-created) one madly elaborate environment after another, physically and psychologically immersive spatial confections that have proliferated in museums, galleries, and other venues (a Miami condo, a Schindler residence in Los Angeles) at a rate that belies the installations’ material richness and technical virtuosity. For all the work’s heterogeneity—room after room is crammed with everyday objects both found and made,

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  • Jesper Just, This Nameless Spectacle, 2011, two-channel HD video projection, color, sound, 13 minutes. Installation view.

    Jesper Just

    James Cohan Gallery | Chelsea

    Even before we digest the action in Jesper Just’s video installation This Nameless Spectacle, 2011, the work strikes us as visual experience: Its setup is literally encompassing in that it is projected on two long facing walls between which its viewers must stand. Other film and video artists have explored this device, for example Shirin Neshat, who, however, used smaller projections and set them apart on the short rather than the long walls of a long room, making it impossible to see both at the same time—the viewer had to turn from one to the other. Just works instead on the room’s long

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  • View of “Times Square Show,” 1980, West 41st Street, New York. Left wall: Jean-Michel Basquiat, untitled, 1980. Photo: Ted Stamm.

    “Times Square Show Revisited”

    The Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery at Hunter College

    Were we to have the beer-stained napkin upon which was scrawled the brainstorming list of the participants in, say, the Salon des Refusés or the first Impressionist exhibition (perhaps we do, but I’ve forgotten my Rewald), imagine how precious such scraps would be. It may yet seem a stretch to equate the Times Square Show of the spring and summer of 1980 with these epochal undertakings—though posterity, such as it is a little more than thirty years on, appears to be taking a bullish view. But it seems to me that the ephemera generated by this sprawling Pictures-era conclave, from handbills

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  • View of “Rodney McMillian,” 2012.

    Rodney McMillian

    Maccarone | 630 Greenwich Street

    “Prospect Ave.”: It has such an aspirational ring that one can’t help but expect a slum—or perhaps the rotting-from-within Main Street of Stepford. Pressing the name of his old street into service as the title for his first solo outing at Maccarone, Los Angeles–based artist Rodney McMillian surely had in mind its unintended appeal to the cynical impulse; it would be difficult to imagine a less comfortable or homey pad than this chilly cave full of mutant furniture, flayed carpeting, and self-consciously lumpen painterly environments. Committed to identifying parallels between socioeconomic

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  • Bernd and Hilla Becher, Coal Bunker: Zeche Hannibal, Bochum, D. 1973, 2012, eight framed gelatin silver prints, overall 37 1/4 x 75 1/2".

    Bernd and Hilla Becher

    Sonnabend Gallery

    The photographic enterprise of Bernd and Hilla Becher is by now as seemingly archetypal as the structures it documents. Recording, over several decades, a range of building “typologies” around the globe—from water towers to grain elevators—their images offer up a kind of anonymous, parallel history of the industrial edifice. The same inexorably milky sky frames each structure, and atmospheric indicators are so minimal as to compel concentration upon the objects themselves. This is not to say that the eye isn’t tempted by minutiae—the erratic arc of tire tracks, cement planters

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  • Rey Akdogan, Artikelgruppe (detail), 2012, ceiling fan, PVC-strip curtain, industrial halogen lights, sandblasted glass diffusers, aluminum fan blades, light with Lee 748 and Lee 238 lighting gels, dimensions variable.

    Rey Akdogan

    Miguel Abreu Gallery | Orchard Street

    Who didn’t move to the Big City for the nightlife? Or at least the idea that it’s there for you if you want it? Well, prepare to be happy: Rey Akdogan’s show “night curtain” was open to the public from dusk to midnight. Accordingly, it took full advantage of an often-ignored truth of metropolitan art-viewing, one that the night hours at Palais de Tokyo in Paris have exploited to great effect for years, and that the lines out the door for the occasional late nights at New York museums demonstrate: People love to see art after the sun goes down. Doing so changes the whole texture of the viewing

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  • Mary Weatherford, Empire, 2012, Flashe paint and neon on linen, 105 x 79".

    Mary Weatherford

    Brennan & Griffin

    Mary Weatherford moved from New York back to her native Southern California in 1999. Ever since, her abstract paintings have drawn their inspiration from the landscape of her home state, focusing on motifs such as a coastal rock at Malibu or a cave at Pismo Beach, as well as on less geographically specific details such as tangles of vine or the remnants of sea life that wash up on the shore. Weatherford is not afraid to wear these inspirations on her sleeve, even at the risk of seeming naive: Over the years, she’s repeatedly affixed seashells and starfish to her fields of exuberant color. If

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  • Alisa Baremboym, Leakage Industries: Clear Conduit, 2012, gelled emollient, unglazed ceramic, USB cable with gender changers, flash drive, floor flange, threaded pipe, screws, red pipe caps, 40 x 32 x 48". From “A Disagreeable Object.”

    “A Disagreeable Object”

    SculptureCenter

    “A Disagreeable Object” had a simple premise: Surrealism’s afoot. More difficult was the proof. Arguing for an avant-garde’s renewed relevance first entails defining the original movement—no easy task when that avant-garde was exceptionally long-lived and riven by factionalism from the start. Instead of honing a signature style, Surrealism stockpiled strategies, aesthetic techniques devised to trigger that exhilarating condition known alternately as the marvelous or uncanny. Curator Ruba Katrib resolved this preliminary dilemma by borrowing her exhibition title from a 1931 work by Alberto

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  • Kiyoshi Nakagami, Untitled, 2012, acrylic, Chinese ink, and mica on canvas, 75 1/2 x 76 1/2".

    Kiyoshi Nakagami

    Galerie Richard | New York

    The striking thing about Kiyoshi Nakagami’s paintings is not so much their sublimity, but the unexpected influence of Barnett Newman’s “zip” on their construction—“unexpected” because Nakagami’s ethereal waterfalls of gold paint on black grounds are, formally, miles away from Newman’s rigorously geometric Color Field abstractions. Yet it is not the drip’s form—the cleanly demarcated vertical line—in which Nakagami is interested. Rather, he is inspired by the way in which the zips recall “drips,” the way in which they seemingly cascade down the flat planes of Newman’s painting,

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  • Alix Pearlstein, Moves in the Field, 2012, HD video, color, sound, 20 minutes.

    Alix Pearlstein

    On Stellar Rays

    In a video projected wall-size, people come and go. They meet, part, walk toward one another, and run away. They confront the camera or they ignore it. The only sounds are of footsteps, quickening and slowing. Facial expressions are for the most part neutral, although some of the performers occasionally exhibit a wider range of emotion, in particular a handsome dark-haired fellow who glowers and flirts, his posture looser than the others’. At one point, he and an older woman press their cheeks together, and she smiles rather radiantly—an understated emotional peak.

    This is Alix Pearlstein’s

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  • Leandro Katz, S(h)elf Portrait, 1972, fifty gelatin silver prints, each 10 x 8 1/8".

    Leandro Katz

    Henrique Faria Fine Art

    A series of images produced according to preset constraints, Leandro Katz’s S(h)elf Portrait, 1972, recalls, at first glance, the Photoconceptualism of Ed Ruscha or John Baldessari, yet close inspection reveals something altogether more labyrinthine than anything those artists ever did. Fifty photos, set in six uneven, vertically aligned rows, document the artist converting his studio into an office, working around a pay phone hung incongruously above a desk. The topmost photographs show shelves being constructed and filled with books and knickknacks. Starting in row 2, the photographs from row

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  • View of “Andra Ursuta,” 2012. Both works titled Commerce Exterieur Mondial Sentimental, 2012.

    Andra Ursuta

    Ramiken Crucible | New York

    An unusual news story emerged from debt-addled Eastern Europe last January: The Roma (or “Gypsy”) witches of Romania were facing a new, 16 percent income tax. Farewell, black-market magic. Although the new law gave some credibility to the much-maligned profession (the occupation “witch” was officially added to the government’s labor rolls), predictably, not all the enchantresses were pleased. Reports circulated that some covens planned to curse president Traian Ba˘sescu by throwing mandrake into the Danube River. To celebrate these “unknown psychic soldiers,” New York–based, Romanian-born Andra

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  • Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Chicago, 1948–52, gelatin silver print, 8 x 11".

    Yasuhiro Ishimoto

    Yasuhiro Ishimoto died this past February at the age of ninety. This exhibition functioned as a small homage to the artist, who, over the course of nearly six decades, worked in a wide range of styles. Although he was born in San Francisco, Ishimoto was raised in Japan and returned to the United States in 1939, when he planned to study agriculture in California. He was rounded up by American authorities during World War II and held in an internment camp for Japanese Americans. It was there, surprisingly enough, that he developed his passion for photography, which was to occupy him for the rest

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