June 27, 2009

Torsten Slama in Houston

Torsten Slama, "Walt Whitman Memorial Refinery/Walt-Whitman-Gedenk-Raffinerie," 2005, India ink on illustration board, 28 x 40 inches. Collection Beth Rudin de Woody, New York

Rebecca Cochran reports in ArtForum that Berlin-based artist Torsten Slama's first museum show features an unnerving postapocalyptic world. "Part science fiction, part prophecy, his desolate landscape paintings and drawings depict a sinister, mechanized environment where technology and science rule. For his accomplished paintings, Slama utilizes oil, acrylic, and airbrush to create flat surfaces that erase the hand of their creator, a style particularly appropriate for the works here, which are themselves often devoid of humans....

"The exhibition also includes skillfully rendered pencil drawings on paper. While some follow in the same narrative vein as the paintings, another series portrays a bearded elderly gentleman whose well-groomed appearance and friendly face contradict the precarious and often confrontational situations he encounters. One work depicts him in a business suit apparently startling another man dressed only in his undershorts; in another, the protagonist is naked, clasping a pipe in one hand and a briefcase in the other. In most cases, he stands facing the viewer, as if issuing a challenge to decipher the ominous sexual innuendos that riddle the work. Psychological underpinnings and narrative suggestions connect the two seemingly disparate bodies of work into a strong presentation by this promising artist."

"Torsten Slama," Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX. Through August 2.

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