Double Album

These reviews were first published at Paper Monument.

 

Scott Lyall
“An Immigrant Affection”
September 12–October 24
Miguel Abreu Gallery

Lyall: “The point is that abstraction, which never looks quite like itself, is always lacking (decorative, senseless) while also seeming to be ‘too much.’”

I would agree, but this room full of grey and white rectangles has abstraction looking a lot like its old self.

Bianca Beck, Josh Brand, Anonymous Americans
“I Live My Thoughts”
September 12–October 17
Laurel Gitlen

One would rather praise the named exhibitors, but Anonymous Americans stole the show. Their memory jugs are chipped, dirty containers encrusted with all manner of gnarled mementos. One sported an ornately phallic glass lid; another was entirely shells. There were tiny spoons, broken watches, other stuff only the jugs can remember. Partly to let the living artists off the hook, I struggled to comprehend the dark grandeur of these folk vessels. How to describe their unsettling, ingenuous presence on the gallery’s white pedestals? The word I kept coming back to was fecal.

Alex Olson
“As a Verb, as a Noun, in Peach and Silver”
September 12–October 17
Lisa Cooley

The noun and the verb are both painting, but there isn’t as much peach and silver as suggested. In fact, the best picture is black and white. It’s called Unravel, but it’s the most composed. As with jazz, the gap between the simple title and the unnameable experience can invite reverie. But the other perils of improvisation also abound.

Louise Despont
“House of Instruments”
September 12–October 24
Nicelle Beauchene Gallery

The warm harmony between the wood floor, the wood frames, and the yellowed ledger paper saves these intricate structures from the coolly obsessive realm of most repetitive drawings—before dropping them in another dangerous territory, that of nostalgic interior decoration. But if you could say these look like fin-de-siècle Jungian wallpaper, you could just as easily find yourself saying, How much for that little one with the red stain?

“At Home / Not At Home: Works from the Collection of Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg”
Curated by Matthew Higgs
June 26–December 19
Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Hessel Museum of Art

“At Home/Not at Home” is really more like “At Gallery/At Museum” for those of us not invited to the Eisenberg’s. The overall effect of the nineteen rooms is as imposing as a Whitney Biennial or a Greater New York, except more orderly and convincing. Sure, these wealthy devotees bought a fair amount of dross—Josh Smith and Guyton/Walker, to name only the self-naming—but they have also bought a surprising amount of just what I would have bought: a black Mark Grotjahn butterfly, a couple of Leslie Hewitt’s Riffs in Real Time, a violently optical R. H. Quaytman screen print, a big, bruised Peter Doig painting called Stag, and so on. Your list will differ from mine, and there will be things you’ve never seen before, but the fact remains: of the good art we saw for sale over the last five or ten years, these people actually went in and bought a lot of it.

—DP


“Max’s Kansas City”
Steven Kasher Gallery
September 15–October 9

Here we have photographic proof that the sexual revolution was potentiated not by the development of birth control, but rather by the widespread availability of antibiotics.

Tetsumi Kudo
“Cubes and Gardens”
Andrea Rosen
September 10–October 16

These 1970s decaying gardens planted with wilting penises make the contemporary excitement over heirloom seeds seem pretty reasonable. Among the bleak collection: dice, dice, and dice filled with egg crates, mummified string babies, a birdcage suffocated under plexiglass, plastic flowers rising like zombie limbs from a faux-soil coffin with windows onto its gadget-y contents, and a blacklit sculptural nightmare taking place in a bedroom-sized die. All of the dice open up and have stuff inside. No roll would ever present the right combination of numbers to end the nightmare. This work carries a real sense of loss and warning. One wonders if the work felt as foreboding when newly made as it does in retrospect.

Liao Yibai
“Real Fake”
Mike Weiss Gallery and ATM Gallery
September 10–October 30

Are you making oversized, stainless-steel monuments to counterfeit consumer goods? With welding so shoddy in places that the intention (or lack thereof) behind the craft (or lack thereof) doesn’t matter anymore? In two different galleries? And there’s supposed to be something about clouds and the “real craftsmanship” of ancient Chinese artisans involved? Am I understanding correctly that these items were made as commodity objects for a market obsessed with authenticity? Is this like my dentist’s recommended sugar-sweetened toothpaste? Did I just ingest a bunch of ethylene glycol? Will there be a bathroom break? Liao Yibai, 1; mind, 0.

Liu Xiaodong
Mary Boone
September 11–October 23

There’s a stupid phrase about paintings holding walls – do you know it? Also something about paintings having “wall power”—let’s forget that one. Anyway, Liu’s painting H’s Family held Ms. Boone’s wall. Held it as though the wall were a dog wearing a prong collar. This happened largely through use of color and perspective. There it is. Held the wall and held it well.

“Holes”
Daniel Reich Gallery
September 10, 2010–

“Holes” is a solidly positive (read: good vibes/healing) show with two standout pieces: Jack Early’s Poster and Endre Aalrust’s The Higher the Hair. Poster is a giant gray-white banner cascading onto the floor with an ankle-high stack of white LPs resting at its end. In white text descending from the ceiling, the poster tells the story of how Rob Pruitt and Jack Early’s careers were intertwined, reached zenith, and then fell apart. The text is a big finger in Visual Art’s eye, as Early discovers at the end that it is humming, or the private performance of an aural work, that brings him to himself, to his best happiness. This material retelling has a pathos that emerges from the delicate narrative as much as it does from its austere and intimate presentation. It’s really human. The Higher the Hair might not be of interest if you don’t care for glue, German, corporeal jokes, hot caffeinated beverages, or crapitecture, but it’s a powerful group of totems suggesting that pain is temporary, wounds heal, and you acquire new tools/objects/needs as time passes.

—JS

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