Review

February 26, 2014, 10:23am

Literally Figurative: Sarah Awad

The Women was the title of Sarah Awad's (NAP #93) first solo exhibition at Diane Rosenstein Fine Art this past November.  The press release provides an immediate context for the work: “The artist reawakens our detached assumptions about the transcendent purity of minimalism and -- in what becomes a return of ‘The Return of the Figure’ -- continues a contemporary conversation with the work of Cecily Brown, Marlene Dumas, and John Currin.”  The figure in art can exist as a fundamentally formal aspect of how we perceive 2D images (any shape on a picture plane that appears in front of a pictorial ground is technically a figure), and also as the specific subject matter designation of people in the picture.  Somewhere between and to the side of those notions is the issue of the female nude in art. – Jason Ramos, Los Angeles Contributor


Sarah Awad | The Women, installation view, Courtesy of Diane Rosenstein Fine Art/photo by Craig Kirk

Listed under: Review

February 12, 2014, 4:35pm

Iva Gueorguieva’s Surface-Effect

Iva Gueorguieva’s (NAP #73) paintings, on view at Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe in New York, bring a breathe of California sun to our frigid New York winter. Working up the surfaces of her large canvases into almost a fetishized frenzy, the paintings are abstract, yet indicative of movement. By denying viewers the ability to rest their eyes on any one component for too long, her works are both mesmerizing and disconcerting, inducing frustration as one tries to pinpoint figures or structures within the compositions. Fractions, edges, and suggestions of such imagery exist, but are ungraspable as they dissolve into the chaos of each scene. – Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor


Installation view, Iva Gueorguieva at
Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe, January 30 – March 8, 2014. Courtesy Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe.

Listed under: Review

February 10, 2014, 9:22am

Radcliffe Bailey’s Maroons

In Radcliffe Bailey’s (NAP #28) new exhibition, Maroons, on view at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, the Atlanta-based artist challenges the dominant history of slavery, and probes the unexpected cultural interactions that it inadvertently promoted. The show’s title references the “maroon” communities of escaped African slaves that formed illicit settlements throughout the Americas and the Caribbean. The English name for these “maroons” comes from the Taíno word símaran, a word describing the flight of an arrow. Taíno is the indigenous culture and language of Caribbean islands like Hispaniola that the colonists first made landfall on, making it an appropriate root for the term. The title also primes viewers for the issues of displacement, diaspora, and migration that the works in this show primarily engage. – Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor


Installation view showing Vessel, 2012 (left), tarp, iron, vintage model ship, wicker basket and glass, 120 x 188 x 89 inches; and Pensive, 2013 (right), bronze and rough-sawn fir logs, 58 x 39 ¼ x 45 ¼ inches. Courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery.

Listed under: Review

February 06, 2014, 3:21pm

Soul Seeking: Alexandra Grant at Lora Reynolds Gallery

Have you ever Google'd yourself? (Is it profane even, to use 'Google' as a verb?) As we leave digital footprints over multiple social media platforms, like a slightly exaggerated profile on an online dating site or a carefully composed Instagram shot (to one-up our friend's idyllic beach photo), we may ask ourselves 'how much of me is there?' And how much of that factors into our presence in and understanding of the greater physical world? In Century of the Self, organized by independent curator Sarah C. Bancroft at Lora Reynolds Gallery, artist Alexandra Grant dives into feverishly detailed compositions that embrace language as both quotable texts and visual tools. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor


Alexandra Grant | Alexandra Grant: Century of the Self installation view, January 18 – March 15, 2014. Courtesy the artist and Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin.

Listed under: Review

January 27, 2014, 5:03pm

Robert Bechtle at Gladstone Gallery

Robert Bechtle’s works can often be dated by the make and model of the cars he chooses to include in his paintings and drawings. The small suite of recent drawings on view at Gladstone Gallery in New York are no different. The centerpiece of the show is aptly a large oil painting titled Bob’s Sebring, in which the artist depicts himself standing next to a silver Sebring convertible. Known for working from photographs for his intensely detailed works, the image represents a typically awkward moment. While the car is shown from an optimal angle, parked at a diagonal as one might see on a car lot or in a showroom, the artist’s pose is one of humble reserve, and stands in sharp contrast to the ostentatiousness of his new car. Positioned in the crook of the open car door, we are unsure as to whether he has parked his car just so for the photograph, or about to drive away. – Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor


Robert Bechtle |
Bob's Sebring, 2011, Oil on canvas, 40 x 57 3/4 inches, Courtesy Gladstone Gallery

Listed under: Review

January 23, 2014, 3:35pm

Perpendicular Painting: Zoe Nelson at Western Exhibitions

Record collectors are only ever concerned with what track is on the a-side. Not many will pay attention to, or often even know, what exists on the flip of their 45s. An exhibition of Zoe Nelson’s (NAP #95, #107) newest paintings, currently on view at Western Exhibitions, questions the very nature of a “good side.” My go-to reference for Nelson’s work has always been its lyrical qualities – though this exhibition references the history of that trope in painting as much as it does an x-y coordinate system. What better way to reference the spatial placement of the work than through its Cartesian properties? For Nelson, the grid is treated not as a pretext, but as a challenge. Paintings extend off the wall, appearing to fill the visual gap of the wall space left behind it – the sound or harmony within the work, if the exhibition has such an affect, directly plays off their relation to the viewer, as if the exhibition itself is a changing composition, shifting space ever so slightly as the viewer navigates around it.

While Nelson’s past paintings were entirely evocative of Supprematist abstractions, the new work exists more dimensionally, in the round. Favoring a democratization of space – or we could just as easily say the flipside – the “front” or the “back” of her paintings seem to not exist, or be discernable. There is an equality to the treatment of the painting’s entire surface area as an object that speaks to retelling of dated mid-century patterns and ideologies; a history of steadfast modernism unhinged from its context. In line with its audile perspective, the emphatic physical presence of the work maintains a discordant tension – at once occupying space, as it attempts to flatten it. – Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor


Installation photographs by James Prinz. Image courtesy of Western Exhibitions and Zoe Nelson.

Listed under: Review

January 22, 2014, 4:37pm

Christian Marclay at Paula Cooper Gallery

One doesn’t usually associate the video artist Christian Marclay with paintings or works on paper. Yet at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York, a suite of his new paintings and prints were on view, unaccompanied by any time-based elements. However, true to the artist’s sound-based practice, each large piece is punctuated by onomatopoeias that evoke action. Each is also done in a bright palette and in a style that is analogous to comic book pages. - Nadiah Fellah, NYC Contributor


Christian Marclay, Paula Cooper Gallery, New York, November 22, 2013 – January 18, 2014. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery.

January 13, 2014, 8:40pm

Paul Cowan: Parallel Processing at Shane Campbell

Generosity is rarely immediately questioned when viewing an exhibition for the first time. It is often a given in the work, in many ways expected, though it is not to be underestimated. In his current exhibition on view at Shane Campbell, Parallel Processing, local painter Paul Cowan stages a void – a scarceness of information and material that favors a sparse collection of work, mainly a flush series of monochromes with minimal demarcations. In a very pop delineation of surface reflection, the canvases represent windows. They do not look within, or reflect anything other than their own emphatic presence. - Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor


Installation view, BCEAUSE THE SKY IS BULE, 2013. Chroma-key blue paint on canvas. 78h x 41w in each.

Listed under: Review

January 12, 2014, 9:40pm

False Lanterns and Dark Entries: Robert Yoder at Platform Gallery

I was not familiar with the term “hobby lantern” prior to seeing Robert Yoder’s (NAP #85) new paintings.  It turns out to be a phenomenon of atmospheric, apparition-like lights that appear in boggy conditions, leading travelers astray from the safest path, also known as a will-o’-the-wisp. Appearing in titles of works featured in Dark Entries at Seattle’s Platform Gallery this month, the hobby lantern is a fitting keystone for paintings rich in both the thick, muddiness of their surfaces and the emotional sensibilities that flare beneath. - Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor


Robert Yoder |
TEENAGE DONNA (HOBBY LANTERN 1), 2013, oil and acrylic on cotton bandana. 18 x 17.5 inches. Image courtesy of Platform Gallery.

Listed under: Review

December 30, 2013, 2:41pm

Getting Lost in the Crowd: Francesca Bifulco at Jna Gallery

A few months ago, I saw painter Francesca Bifulco’s work at Bergamot Station’s Jna Gallery in Santa Monica.  Her “crowd series” moved and impressed me with their sheer size, the density and details of the crowds depicted, the hard-lined graphics, and the oscillating feeling between oppressivity and sensitivity that she creates. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Francesca Bifulco | In the Crowd #4, 130” x 83”,
Acrylic on canvas, Paestum, Italy, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Listed under: Review

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