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Letter from SINGAPORE

A fantasy city on the far side of the world, Singapore combines modern planning with intimations of tropical escape. It acknowledges our jaded taste for luxury while arousing utopian dreams.

In the Studio: Photographs
In the Studio: Paintings

Seeing an artist’s studio is exciting: what admirer of Caravaggio wouldn’t enjoy a glimpse of his workspace, as it is imaginatively reconstructed in Derek Jarman’s 1986 film? By going behind the scenes, we learn about the private life of a creative person, in a way that deepens our knowledge of their art.

Peter Williams

If one were to glance briefly at Williams’s works, the bright palette and carnivalesque scenes might belie the violence depicted.

JOANNE GRÜNE-YANOFF Between the Skin and the Prop

A space without a permanent home, the International Fine Arts Consortium— temporarily located on Delancey Street on the Lower East Side, is showing the collage work and correspondence of Joanne Grüne-Yanoff, an American artist who lives and works in Stockholm. The smallish individual works nicely reflect Grüne-Yanoff’s ongoing interest in nature: small butterflies decorate the letters written between herself and Monica L. Miller, a professor of American and African-American literature at Barnard College; they discuss the imagery from an earlier show by the artist that Miller saw in Stockholm.

LAURA KINA Blue Hawai’i

As an Asian-American painter of mixed background, Laura Kina creates work that is as culturally relevant as it is emotionally resonant. Her father, who is of Japanese descent, grew up in Hawai’i, where he worked on sugarcane plantations before moving to the American mainland to become a doctor.


On what may have been the last cold night of a bone-chilling winter, a horde of eager art viewers filled Artists Space’s Tribeca basement. The occasion was the opening of the German artist Hito Steyerl’s first New York survey, and in the dark room Steyerl delivered “Duty-Free Art,” (2015) a complex but cogent lecture on the post-nation-state museum.

CORDY RYMAN Chimera 45

Each space between the endless concentric squares/ Refers to its diamond configuration, / Recalls the mitered maze that we traveled through / Into LYCIA.

Theory Mapping in the Interregnum: LISA DAVIS, New Paintings

Lisa Davis’s paintings are nothing if not complex. It’s a complexity that’s deeply embedded in her perception of how the world moves, shimmers, and stutters. Contrary to the non-casual present at MOMA’s painting show, The Forever Now, Davis celebrates the machinations of time.

EMILY MASON Recent Paintings

Sound drifting rhythm infuses with the sun’s “Jukebox.” / Soft wind whispers gently between particles of dust, / Caressing the “Blue Flag,” / Two reincarnations of van Gogh’s cypresses that / All of us have seen a few blocks away / At the Modern just last September.


To explore the profound impact of Shadows, one must begin with Alfredo Jaar, the architect. Jaar’s site-specific spaces at Lelong have no equivalency in contemporary architecture.

CLAIRE FONTAINE Stop Seeking Approval

Since 2004, Fontaine has approached the readymade, abstraction, and collectivity not as aesthetic ideals but as coping strategies in the symbolic economy of contemporary art.  If these practices have failed to kill the author, representation, and individualism, Claire Fontaine suggests, they may still offer a catalogue of readymade forms to remix and reassemble into an allegorical frieze of avant-garde aspiration and political frustration. 

The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky

Anishinaabe cultural theorist Gerald Vizenor coined the term “survivance,” a combination of survival and endurance, to suggest for Native Americans an active sense of presence and continuation and to renounce discourses of dominance and victimization.


Writing at the tail end of the Machine Age, Lewis Mumford, that most incisive critic of culture, noted an emerging irony: the more human-like our machines were becoming, the more lifeless and mechanical were the human agents they were created to serve.

GIUSEPPE PENONE Indistinti confini / Indistinct Boundaries

The sculptures from which this extraordinary exhibition of selected new and older works by Giuseppe Penone takes its name—Indistinti confini, (Indistinct Boundaries)—look like ordinary tree trunks mounted on finished marble bases and covered with a thick coat of flat white paint, save for certain areas where the bark is peeled away, or where branches are cross-sectioned at their origin.

GUNTHER FORG Lead Paintings

When Günther Förg’s monochrome paintings first appeared during the mid-1970s, they seemed to be, at least in part, a rejection of the expressionist and figurative tendencies of Das Neue Wilden (The New Wild) German painting emerging during those years.

SAMARA GOLDEN The Flat Side of the Knife

Samara Golden’s art is nearly impossible to talk about. Just as looking into The Flat Side of the Knife at MoMA PS1 induces vertigo, so too a description of the installation slips by, down, away. Understanding flits in and out.


In the exhibition A Group Show at Jack Shainman Gallery, Michael Snow shows and tells us, repeatedly, how and with what his art is made. Now this might make you think about formalism and the dramatics of the Greenbergian yesteryear, the artist drawing attention to the ontological identity of his medium(s), renouncing pictorial depth, etc.


Adam Magyar’s first solo show in New York, Kontinuum, contemplates the calm and the fury of time.

Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa—Art and Film

Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros are remembered as the giants of 20th-century Mexican murals. Their visual disciple, cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa (1907 – 97), likewise portrayed the grandeur of the Mexican landscape and its people, expanding the distinctly Mexican oeuvre beyond painting to photography, film, and television.

Moving Image Department and Stanislav Kolíbal

Adam Budak’s first major gesture as the Chief Curator of the National Gallery in Prague was to introduce a Moving Image Department. This is in keeping with his ambition to make the Veletržní Palace a major European venue for contemporary art.

Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence

Rarely in the hectic, increasingly commodified world of art today has a museum exhibition so successfully taken us to another place in our heads as did this show in Houston this winter.


Slush splashed under the crowds as the latest winter storm melted around Tatiana Trouvé’s new piece, Desire Lines, during its first days installed on the southeast corner of Central Park.


Hadieh Shafie’s recent works—brilliantly colored rolls and stacks of paper packed into white rectangles, squares, tondos, and even a cube—managed to walk a thin line between painting and object, concept and image, Iran and the West, with rare stumbles.

Joyce Pensato

Joyce Pensato’s paintings provide critics with a seemingly inexhaustible range of subjects for discussion. Her glum, expressionistic renderings of American pop icons—Batman, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the Simpsons—are usually seen as a commentary on the country’s bleak cultural and social situation.


The Brooklyn Rail

APR 2015

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