DAVID COHEN, Editor           
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November 2008

IMAGE ESSAY
FRACTURED WITNESS
by David Cohen



Alexey Kallima [detail]


A number of recent shows accentuated the odd mix of remoteness and involvement artists evidently experience about war when they are not at the "actual" front.
This image essay, the first of a new feature at artcritical, looks at exhibitions of Susanna Coffey, Martha Rosler, Eyal Danieli and Alexey Kallima


posted 11/19/2008
DAVID CARRIER on Liza Lou at L&M Arts

We all know that beautiful artifacts are grand commodities, and so have to be carefully guarded. But by making her sculptures beautiful and menacing, both at the same time, Lou brings home that contradiction


posted 11/12/2008
JONATHAN GOODMAN on Jackie Winsor at Paula Cooper

Much of Winsor’s originality derives from her enigmatic yet evocative treatment of form, which conceals as much as it reveals.


posted 11/9/2008
JOHN GOODRICH on Louisa Matthiasdottir at Tibor de Nagy

Throughout this retrospective selection of her work, one senses in Matthiasdottir a luminous reserve – a private temperament joyfully submitting to an exacting task. We’re rewarded with extraordinary evocations of the observed


posted 11/3/2008
JENNIFER RILEY on Cora Cohen at Michael Steinberg

Cohen makes evident tribute to the shaping influences of artists such as Kline, de Kooning, Pollock, and Wols and yet, with seemingly equal force of curiosity explores her fascination with the humble, yet visibly rich, impossibly chaotic, anti-heroic marks and stains of life from street culture: the entropy of urbanism.


posted 11/3/2008
JOHN ZINSSER on Mary Heilmann at the New Museum

Heilmann often seems be daring herself to do something truly “awful”—only to find beauty in it...The accumulated brushmarks and open drips make her act of painting transliterate into a kind of crime of passion.


posted 11/1//2008
DAVID CARRIER on Abstract Expressionism: A World Elsewhere, curated by David Anfam, at Haunch of Venison

We need to understand properly the Americanness of Abstract Expressionism, without treating it either as a triumph of chauvinistic mythmaking or as an episode in the Cold War.


posted 11/6//2008
NORA GRIFFIN on Baker Overstreet at Fredericks & Freiser

Hints of past layers visible beneath the surface are the only counterpunch to a solid machine that affords little room for speculation beyond its shiny and seductive design. The label of “primitive” given to Overstreet and many of his peers in contemporary abstract painting belies a highly stylized, self-conscious approach to image construction.


posted 11/1//2008
JONATHAN GOODMAN on Ching Ho Cheng at Shepherd & Derom

One of the last methods Cheng used included metal that, once it oxidized, existed as a rough surface of rust whose compelling alchemy gave his audience a remarkable exterior to consider. The magic of these pieces results from contrasts in color as well as memorable differences in the finish of the paint and copper.


posted 11/17/2008
PIRI HALASZ on Frankenthaler at Eighty at Knoedler

A "pink lady" is a cocktail made with gin, Grenadine, cream and egg white—the gin packs a punch masked by the more ladylike ingredients. The punch in this painting lies in how its image, suggesting (among much else) an orchid and a human heart, boils upward and outward, from its slate-blue core through the billowing peach and fuchsia of its sides to the splattering blast of blue and reds at the top.


posted 11/28/2008
DAVID BRODY on
Hilary Brace at Edward Thorp

At first the eye is fooled – one thinks one is looking at silvery photographs of sublime cloudscapes shot from an airplane above an uninhabited wilderness. Closer examination reveals the patient, expert mark of the hand, as well as an improvisatory richness of imagination that, while consistently illusionistic, is decidedly otherworldly.


posted 11/28/2008
STEPHEN MAINE on Daniel Hesidence at Feature

The artist softens his vigorous brushwork using a blending brush, a staple of the realist painter’s tool kit, relying too heavily on an admixture of white to sidestep the chromatic muddiness that would otherwise ensue. In places this unexpected technique imparts a smeary appearance, while elsewhere the forms are so hairy-looking you want to take a big comb to them.


Studio Visit: Insisting on Perfection
ROBIN HILL in conversation with Theodora Varnay-Jones

I do not make sketches or write down ideas. I wait until a mental image accumulates and is ready to be visualized. My desire is to be concrete, to be specific, and to have reason. The manifestation of these desires is the structure. It is the language of geometry, which defines and gives body to my shapeless vision.