reviews

  • View of the Whitney Biennial 2022. From left: Mónica Arreola, works from the series “Valle San Pedro,” 2018–20; Danielle Dean, Long Low Line (Fordland), 2019. Photo: Ron Amstutz.

    View of the Whitney Biennial 2022. From left: Mónica Arreola, works from the series “Valle San Pedro,” 2018–20; Danielle Dean, Long Low Line (Fordland), 2019. Photo: Ron Amstutz.

    Whitney Biennial 2022

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    ALL BIENNIALS are architecture biennials. This is made especially clear in the eightieth edition of the Whitney Biennial 2022: “Quiet as It’s Kept,” which unfolds mainly across the museum’s fifth and sixth floors, respectively themed light and dark.

    A handful of works occupy other areas, such as Rodney McMillian’s shaft, 2021–22, an antimonumental dick joke in the form of a vascular painting-object not meant to be seen in its entirety. The enormous tube, covered in multicolored paint, spans six stories of the museum’s central stairwell. Fittingly, the

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  • View of the Whitney Biennial 2022. Steve Cannon’s library and A Gathering of the Tribes archival material. Photo: Ron Amstutz.

    View of the Whitney Biennial 2022. Steve Cannon’s library and A Gathering of the Tribes archival material. Photo: Ron Amstutz.

    Whitney Biennial 2022

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    SPLENDOR. That’s the word that comes to mind as one walks—sails—through the 2022 Whitney Biennial. Splendor as a transformative experience, affecting soul and spirit. Curated with visual alacrity, emotional commitment, and historical heft by Adrienne Edwards and David Breslin, this exhibition, which is so much about loss, discovery, and opening our eyes to the possibility of art in space, also destabilizes the museum-as-institution’s relationship to what makes an exhibition. No more walls, the curators seem to be saying throughout the show—specifically

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  • Pieter Schoolwerth, Unicorn Landing Page Real Estate (Rigged #16), 2022, oil, acrylic, and ink-jet print on canvas, 79 × 72".

    Pieter Schoolwerth, Unicorn Landing Page Real Estate (Rigged #16), 2022, oil, acrylic, and ink-jet print on canvas, 79 × 72".

    Pieter Schoolwerth

    Petzel Gallery | East 67th Street

    With a mood that often suggests a trippy twenty-first-century recapitulation of Richard Hamilton’s iconic 1956 proto-Pop collage Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?, Pieter Schoolwerth’s newest works propose a world swollen to the point of disfigurement with the flotsam and jetsam of the capitalist now. The consumerist heartache at the core of Hamilton’s sardonic dream home was founded on a welter of newfangled appliances, product logos, and hypertrophically idealized male and female forms. For their part, Schoolwerth’s virtuoso paintings swarm with low-budget

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  • Jennie C. Jones, Split Bar, End Note, 2021, diptych, acoustic panel and acrylic on canvas, each 48 × 36 × 3 1⁄2".

    Jennie C. Jones, Split Bar, End Note, 2021, diptych, acoustic panel and acrylic on canvas, each 48 × 36 × 3 1⁄2".

    Jennie C. Jones

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

    “Jennie C. Jones: Dynamics,” an exhibition of new work by the contemporary American artist, was a Minimalist offering conceived to buttress “Vasily Kandinsky: Around the Circle,” a concurrent show on view until September 5, 2022, featuring works culled from the Guggenheim Foundation’s own holdings. (Another presentation by Etel Adnan, which closed this past January, and an upcoming one by Cecilia Vicuña are part of the museum’s program of satellite shows organized around the Kandinsky exhibition).

    In contrast to the exuberant visual vocabularies that permeate the Russian artist’s pictures, Jones’s

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  • Barbara T. Smith, Holy Squash (detail), 1971, digital video transfer, altar fiber-glass drawing and cast test tubes, bag with foam, spacing material in bag, plastic drop cloth with overspray, three foam sheets with overspray, four foam sheets, reliquary, sound, staff with fiberglass hand, old shoes used during production, miscel-laneous items from production, shirt used during production, the Holy Squash and plastic casting of original offering, flowers, dimensions variable.

    Barbara T. Smith, Holy Squash (detail), 1971, digital video transfer, altar fiber-glass drawing and cast test tubes, bag with foam, spacing material in bag, plastic drop cloth with overspray, three foam sheets with overspray, four foam sheets, reliquary, sound, staff with fiberglass hand, old shoes used during production, miscel-laneous items from production, shirt used during production, the Holy Squash and plastic casting of original offering, flowers, dimensions variable.

    Barbara T. Smith

    Andrew Kreps Gallery

    In 1971, when she was a graduate student at the University of California, Irvine, Barbara T. Smith created Holy Squash Ceremony, a durational performance for the campus art gallery that extended to an adjacent fountain pool. The inspiration for the piece was a dinner party she had recently hosted, conceived as a way to bring together her new art friends and older acquaintances she had known during her previous life as a 1950s housewife. On the menu for her special evening was a dish she made from the flesh of a large Hubbard squash, which she served in its hollowed-out husk. She felt that the

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  • Pier Paolo Calzolari, Untitled, 2021, salt, pigment, oil pastel, gold leaf, walnut, feather, steel, and lead on wood, 39 3⁄8 × 19 3⁄4 × 4 3⁄4".

    Pier Paolo Calzolari, Untitled, 2021, salt, pigment, oil pastel, gold leaf, walnut, feather, steel, and lead on wood, 39 3⁄8 × 19 3⁄4 × 4 3⁄4".

    Pier Paolo Calzolari

    Marianne Boesky Gallery | 507 West 24th Street

    All thirty of the works in “Painting as a Butterfly”—an exhibition by Italian artist Pier Paolo Calzolari—were abstractions. Some were geometric or nearly monochromatic, while several others, such as Rideau V, 1984, a landscape-like picture suffused by a midnight blue, were gestural and full of luscious, flourishing, sensual colors. Running across the top of Rideau V is a fringe of variegated gold and crimson, from which a series of thin vertical lines descend, like delicate rain. Little blossoms of red scale these marks as an uneven band of dark yellow pierces the center of the canvas lengthwise,

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  • Mungo Thomson, Time Life. Volume 2. Animal Locomotion, 2015–22, 4K video, color, sound, 5 minutes 21 seconds.

    Mungo Thomson, Time Life. Volume 2. Animal Locomotion, 2015–22, 4K video, color, sound, 5 minutes 21 seconds.

    Mungo Thomson

    Karma | New York

    I remember seeing the films of Mungo Thomson in 2009 at John Connelly Presents, one of the NADA galleries that occupied a row of storefronts on the western end of Twenty-Seventh Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea district. Derek Eller Gallery, Foxy Production, JCP, Oliver Kamm/5BE Gallery, and Wallspace all used to coordinate their openings for the same evening, encouraging a block-party atmosphere that reliably spilled out onto the street—so much so that the NYPD caught on and started rolling through to issue tickets for outdoor drinking. (Once, as two of my friends were being written up, I heard

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  • Elaine Reichek, Oppenheim’s Gloves, 2020, hand embroidery on cotton gloves appliquéd to linen, 14 3⁄4 × 15 3⁄4".

    Elaine Reichek, Oppenheim’s Gloves, 2020, hand embroidery on cotton gloves appliquéd to linen, 14 3⁄4 × 15 3⁄4".

    Elaine Reichek

    Marinaro

    “Later on, I could perform a more sophisticated maneuver by doubling back on and reversing the injunction against AbEx, performing a critique of the critique, one that allowed me to appropriate AbEx as a practice back into my own hands and twist it into the form I wanted it to assume.” This line from Amy Sillman’s fabulous essay “Ab-Ex and Disco Balls: In Defense of Abstract Expressionism II”—published in these pages in 2011—came to mind as I viewed Elaine Reichek’s second solo show at Marinaro, “Material Girl,” where she turned her gimlet eye onto the long interlaced history connecting painting,

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  • Morgan Bassichis, Pitchy #2, 2020, video, color, sound, 5 minutes 30 seconds.

    Morgan Bassichis, Pitchy #2, 2020, video, color, sound, 5 minutes 30 seconds.

    Morgan Bassichis

    Bridget Donahue

    Political cabaret wunderkind Morgan Bassichis lives and works in that liminal realm of the pedestrian surreal, as evidenced by their first solo gallery exhibition, “Questions to Ask Beforehand,” which opened at Bridget Donahue in Manhattan’s Chinatown. A live performer by trade, Bassichis infused the gallery with levity, creating a show that hovered somewhere between an archival display of queer sociality and a pitch for an unrealized musical about millennial ambivalence. The airy installation re-created those familiar sites of waiting: a therapist’s office, a spare performance space replete

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  • Bridget Mullen, Free to Be You and Me, 2021, Flashe paint and acrylic on linen, 22 × 15".

    Bridget Mullen, Free to Be You and Me, 2021, Flashe paint and acrylic on linen, 22 × 15".

    Bridget Mullen

    Nathalie Karg

    At first, the imagery in Bridget Mullen’s canvases for her show “Quitters” seemed difficult to parse; but I eventually found my way into her world by grooving to the works’ facture. Because she uses the ultra-matte vinyl paint Flashe, often in combination with acrylic or spray paint, the paintings’ surfaces look very dry, which somehow conflicts, in the eye’s mind, with the fluidity of her slyly workmanlike mark-making. The color is thinly applied in layers so that a sense of depth, volume, and plasticity coexists with an acute feeling for the flat surface—another perceptual conundrum. The effect

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  • Itziar Barrio, Stella a Roma, 2021, 4K video, color, sound, 19 minutes 40 seconds.

    Itziar Barrio, Stella a Roma, 2021, 4K video, color, sound, 19 minutes 40 seconds.

    Itziar Barrio

    PARTICIPANT INC

    An assemblage of three IKEA chairs rises up from a stark-white cement plinth. Rubber cuffs bind the folding furniture’s legs, suspending the trio in a tilted balletic pose. Swaths of buttery stygian latex cover each end of the metallic structure, evoking something between soaking-wet laundry hung out to dry and s/m garb in shiny sumptuous black.

    The closing iteration of Itziar Barrio’s twelve-year project THE PERILS OF OBEDIENCE, 2010–22, was all about the dialectics of sex, labor, and style. Visitors experienced this interplay throughout the gallery with a selection of photo-based works, sculptures

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  • Greg Smith, dish core invite, 2022, wool fiber, encaustic, wood, hardware,
latex paint, dry-erase board, 19 1⁄2 × 9 × 3".

    Greg Smith, dish core invite, 2022, wool fiber, encaustic, wood, hardware,
    latex paint, dry-erase board, 19 1⁄2 × 9 × 3".

    Greg Smith

    Susan Inglett Gallery

    Nothing in Greg Smith’s exhibition here was particularly pleasant to look at, which he probably wouldn’t be too wounded to hear. Encaustic-caked assemblages were gouged with runic marks and bolted to the wall with bits of wood, piled with pairs of fabric-stuffed nylons (calling to mind horrible camp sausages or lengths of intestine), or simply pressed with so much wax that it looked like lard was mashed into the works’ surfaces. Flotillas of jetsam comprised the derelict little raft sculptures on the floor; the largest of them was outfitted with a motorized armature that whipped a screen door

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  • View of “Eleen Lin and Tammie Rubin,” 2022. Photo: Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao.

    View of “Eleen Lin and Tammie Rubin,” 2022. Photo: Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao.

    Eleen Lin and Tammie Rubin

    C24 Gallery

    Eleen Lin and Tammie Rubin insightfully reinterpreted fiction and history in “Mythodical” at C24 Gallery. The title parses the show’s themes of personal and cultural mythologies—both the making and undoing thereof—and how each artist brings method to that madness. The curatorial pairing of Lin (painter) and Rubin (sculptor) was a complementary one, with each presenting work that spanned several years, demonstrating how their individual practices have evolved and deepened over time.

    Rubin’s broad coterie of serialized objects—more than a decade’s worth—were an exploratory index of lineage,

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