NEWS

Black Ghosts: Basquiat’s “Defacement” at the Guggenheim

There is no way the show would have been possible without Black Lives Matter, and the discussions around state violence and blackness that the movement mainstreamed.…Read more
NEWS

Fake Deep: James N. Kienitz Wilkins Parodies Authenticity in His New Film

The film's central conceit is to lampoon bad, mid-2000s mumblecore movies by being one both formally and narratively—but this doesn’t add anything of value to the exploration of authenticity.…Read more
INTERVIEWS

David Alekhuogie on American Landscape and Body Politics

"Barack Obama said men needed to pull up their pants. In his plea, I heard my parents trying to make me assimilate into American culture."…Read more
MAGAZINES

Moving Target

Gretchen Bender likely knew better than anyone that her work would be mostly forgotten with time. Erasure was not just her fate, but her subject. …Read more

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Reviews

Most of the ten paintings in Eleanor Aldrich’s exhibition, “Main Squeeze,” portrayed the suppleness of human flesh through close-up depictions of people’s backs pressed into woven or vinyl-cord lawn chairs, hammock nets, and chain-link fencing. The Tennessee-based artist used materials including caulk and silicone to produce tactile, weirdly realistic images of squishy bodies and translucent skin. Occasionally, she embellished the paintings

surfaces with thumbtacks, printed material, and other found items.In The Reader in a Hammock (2019), a woman wearing a bikini top and denim shorts reclines in a hammock, her fat squeezing through the ropes’ diamond pattern. An open magazine composed of torn clippings glued to the canvas rests on her lap, displaying a Budweiser ad. The gobs of her flesh are rendered in silicone mixed with oil paint, and create their own shadows and highlights, while her hair is made of yellow and white paint that Aldrich cut into grooves using a notched masonry trowel. Faint brushstrokes suggest rays of light falling from above. In giving this woman a trashy rag and calling her “the reader,” Aldrich offers a witty take on a historical genre of portraiture....

What can the color blue tell us about masculinity? Fin Simonetti’s recent exhibition, “Pledge,” centered on a series of small sculptures carved from blue alabaster and placed theatrically on a thin steel railing that zigzagged through the gallery. The objects served as a suite of oblique monuments to our current cultural reckoning with hegemonic masculinity: oppressive because of its fragility. Although seeming as solid as Classical marble scu

lptures, the objects were actually made of a soft mineral. Although bolted to the railing, they appeared precariously balanced.The first sculpture in the progression was a rendering of a fire extinguisher, hinting at a state of emergency. Next, an alabaster cock and balls suggested the castrated remains of Western art’s heroic nude. A candle with a cartoonish flame drove home the fact that, no matter the tools at our disposal, the world is a dark place to navigate. Two paws and a tail modeled on those of a pit bull mastiff—and placed on a rectangular portion of the railing that registered as the ghostly scaffolding of the animal’s body—evoked a type of dog commonly considered aggressive. After this came a pair of alabaster earplugs: perhaps for men to block out opinions that might contradict their own. ...

Despite the cheeky title, James Richards and Leslie Thornton’s collaborative exhibition “Speed 2” was not an ironic commentary on popular culture. Rather, it was a thoughtful, meditative expansion of an ambitious, surprisingly personal show about science and fear that the artists staged at the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart in 2018. “Speed 2” required viewers to devote time and attention to building connections among its interlocking components:

a video by Thornton; a collaborative video by Thornton and Richards; a six-screen video with wall text by Thornton, Richards, and the poet Vi Khi Nao; another multichannel video installation by Richards; and a show-within-the-show curated by Richards and featuring the work of eight other artists.Richards and Thornton conceived the “Speed” project after a joint residency at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. This partially accounts for the paranoid obsession with technology and science that ran through the work in the exhibition. Many pieces referred to resurgent Cold War fears. The show-within-the-show included hundreds of Polaroids from the late 1980s by Horst Ademeit (1937–2010) that supposedly document the effect of radiation on the artist’s body and surroundings. Marginalia on the pictures describe fleeting sensations caused by his exposure, and the seeming...

The nine new paintings in Lesley Vance’s show (all untitled and 2019) were a dramatic departure from the works she exhibited in her previous New York solo presentation, at the FLAG Art Foundation in 2012, and at the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Vance, who was born in Milwaukee in 1977 and lives in Los Angeles, first gained national attention for intimately scaled oil-on-canvas abstractions based on photographs of still life arrangements that she made in

her studio with materials like leaves, seashells, and tree branches. Featuring interlocking patches of muted, earthy color applied with richly textured, bravura brushstrokes on dark backgrounds, the paintings often resembled deconstructed Chardin still lifes, albeit with a Cubist flair. In recent years, Vance has turned toward an almost trompe l’oeil kind of imagery, with flatter surfaces and more brilliant color. The latest works are notably large—up to 36 by 28 inches, epic by her previous standards—and wholly abstract, with few, if any, allusions to the empirical world. Tightly composed and displaying a heightened, luminous palette, they contain compressed networks of hard-edge curvilinear shapes that often resemble Möbius strips or undulating tubes. Drop shadows lend a three-dimensional effect to the shapes, which appear to writhe in a shallow, subtly illusionistic space. In ...

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