In ArtForum, Saskia Draxler recommends Stephan Willats’s show at Galerie Thomas Schulte in Berlin. “This exhibition consists entirely of conceptual drawings produced between 1983 and 2007. They are not project sketches for the installations and social interventions for which he has been known since the late 1960s but, rather, are discrete artworks. The ‘Conceptual Towers,’ 1984–2003, are drawings of residential towers that are shaped like the eccentrically designed flower vases Willats collects. He once remarked that certain architects build houses as design objects and not as urban spaces for communication or living, and that these structures are then inhabited by people who surround themselves with lifeless design objects. The diagramlike compositions in the ‘Democratic Grids Series,’ 1989–2002, feature variously colored squares grouped together like endlessly expandable, hierarchy-free structures, which Willats calls ‘democratic surfaces.’ Connected by arrows that are meant to represent directions of communication, each of the squares depicted in ‘Democratic Grid No. 6,’ 1990, represents a different human role: worker, lover, teacher, neighbor, creator, director. The grid shown in ‘Acid (LSD) Grids,’ 1989, includes larger rectangles with psychedelic spirals ringed with purple, orange, and green. Willats is interested in relationships, movement, and the way people and objects interact; his favorite subjects are, he claims, ‘networking,’ ‘self-organization,’ and ‘communication.’ Yet despite their source material, Willats’s whimsical studies are less sociological investigations than aesthetic methodologies for finding the patterns of form and the fields of forces in human behavior and urban design.” Read more “Critics’ Picks.”
“Stephen Willats: Democratic Mosaics and Conceptual Towers,” Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin. through March 8.
Keeping our distance
Precisionist Elsie Driggs retrospective at Michener Museum
Smokestack symbolism in Demuth’s paintings at the Whitney
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