ArtSeen

Gary Simmons

Mention the name Gary Simmons to anyone engaged with contemporary art over the last decade and they are almost certainly to conjure up images of gold basketball sneakers in a police line-up and pint-sized KKK robes.

Jo Baer: The Minimalist Years, 1965–1975

In 1977, in England at the Oxford Museum of Art, Ruth van Herpen kissed one of Jo Baer’s paintings, to "cheer it up" as she later explained. I didn’t know about that when I went to see the exhibition of Baer’s minimalist paintings at the DIA Foundation on West 22nd Street. It does help to explain why I was accompanied by a vaguely angelic young person throughout my visit to the show, and why I was offered a pencil to replace the ball-point pen I was taking notes with.

Lennart Anderson

This broad yet intimate retrospective of Lennart Anderson’s paintings span the last forty years of painting, and their subject matter includes ambitious figure works, nudes, portraits, and still lifes painted throughout his career. Anderson has been described alternately as a realist, or as a classicist, and he is a formalist in the best sense of the word.

Yes Yes Y’all: The Birth of Hip Hop

Deitch Projects Brooklyn Graffiti on subway cars, yellow signs for street names and numbers, and hand-lettered flyers for a "Rappers Convention" all point to signs of life before Puff Daddy. Tragically coinciding with the violent murder of Run DMC’s Jam Master J, Yes Yes Y’All tells the story of a more peaceful time in hip hop history from which groups like Run DMC emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Bjørn Melhus

German artist Bjørn Melhus doesn’t so much exhibit video as invade New York with three new shows. In his first US solo show at Roebling Hall, Melhus presents three small videos and a large video installation that transport the viewer into the strange yet familiar worlds populated by the artist. The exhibit should make Melhus a ubiquitous figure in New York.

Alessandro Pessoli

Bleeding shadows and pulsing points of light define quasi-mythic action in Alessandro Pessoli’s psychedelic landscapes. Tie-dye t-shirts meet 19th century Symbolist painting to create comic, loosely narrative episodes that transpire in an aqueous underworld. In his second show at Anton Kern Gallery, a single wall is covered by grids comprised of small drawings in watercolor and tempera on paper.

Matthew Ritchie

Matthew Ritchie is a visionary thinker who makes decorative, diagrammatic paintings where pictorial information spills from its rectangular boundaries and commandeers real space. In his latest show at Andrea Rosen Gallery, Matthew Ritchie: After Lives, he sought to detail a transformational cycle that encompassed birth, death, solidity, and liquidity.

John J. O’Connor

In his first solo show, John J. O’Connor presents drawings which push schemes of faux systemization to the maximum, resulting in unforeseen and beautiful blooms of decorative data. He begins by trying to chart the indeterminate—areas of itch on the body, passing mundane memories—then uses these amorphous graphs to generate large-scale drawings in colored pencil and graphite.

Watercolor

By bringing to light the admired yet at times obscure practice of watercolor, curators David Cohen and Susan Shatter direct their audience to the only occasionally acknowledged satisfactions of this medium. Their approach presents watercolor as an experiment that opens a window onto many artists’ normative approaches, yielding at times unforeseen results. I discovered some surprising works by artists I thought I already knew.

Evan Lintermans

A native Angeleno, Evan Lintermans constructs a series of slick panels in Generica, a show named for a Sanford Kwinters and Daniela Fabricius essay in Mutations (2000). Lintermans has created six works in oil, latex, and enamel on panel, titled with cutesy names that suggest forms, "Puzzle" (2002), or locations, "Burbank" (2001).

Hungry Eyes

Halifax is a small harbor city in the province of Nova Scotia, in Eastern Canada. In the 1970s a bunch of American artists, led by Garry Neill Kennedy, came and took over the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD). Previously a happily parochial institution with loyalist tendencies, NSCAD had developed little interest in the ongoing convulsions of modernism.

Don Gummer

There’s something in the air these days. Postmodernism and Deconstructivism seem to have brought art to a state of sublime meaninglessness. A main tenant of Po-Mo is a deep skepticism in the meta-narative, that is any theory or system of the sociological superstructure: God, nature, love, beauty, etc.

James Castle

At first sight, the works by James Castle in this beautifully installed exhibition look like fragments from a lost civilization. Assembled from bits and pieces of paper and cardboard, their ragged edges and worn surfaces bearing signs of the passage of time, they seem relics of some pre-industrial civilization (perhaps the kind of culture now more politely called "tribal").

Graf 3000

Albert Camus states in The Rebel that "to make a work of art is an act of rebellion." That realization is the punch that has provided Graf with its cult status as a means of challenging the status quo and having some "bad boy" fun along the way.

Elizabeth Josephson

The study of how an individual feature reflects a person’s soul, spirit, or personality is an old concern of artists. However, it is only at the end of the 19th Century and the turn of the 20th Century, with the advent of modern psychology, that artists became more cautious of physiognomic analysis.

Lael Marshall and DeWitt Godfrey

In her first solo show, Lael Marshall displays a strong repertoire of motifs derived from daily events, words, signs, or random images and painted them accordingly. Although her painterly language reminds us of Neo-Expressionist painting of the 1980s—I mean, the utilization of unrelated images and recomposing them in a number of disparate stylistic manners—Marshall’s relationship to her work is more intimate in scale and seemingly less extravagant in subject matter: Schnabel, for example, often loaded his work with mythological and historical references.

Letter from London

For the past few weeks I have been debating what exhibitions to review for the Rail. London is abloom with exceptional art—Eva Hesse and Barnett Newman at Tate Modern, Rodney Graham at Whitechapel, Douglas Gordon at the Hayward, David LaChapelle at Barbican—to name just a few that fall into the category of absolutely outstanding.

Curating on the Margin

The challenges of dialoguing with subjects or spaces on the fringe, for better or for worse, are fragile endeavors that deserve a close examination of curatorial agendas and theoretical framing. Looking to the recently closed Williamsburg Bridges Palestine 2002 and the soon to open exhibition The Same Sky we can examine the success and failures of the margin, where things that traditionally escape our view are placed in the foreground for careful scrutiny.

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WINTER 2003

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