October 31, 2009

Baton Rouge painters accused of forgery...again


Clementine Hunter at home near Natchitoches, Louisiana © 1974-Christopher R. Harris, All Rights Reserved

Michael Kunzelman reports at AP that a pair of Baton Rouge painters is accused of forging work by Clementine Hunter, a self-taught artist who died in 1988. "The old man's sales pitch sounded plausible enough to art collector Don Fuson. The warning signs didn't appear until after Fuson paid him $30,000 for what he thought were paintings by renowned folk artist Clementine Hunter. By the time the FBI got involved, Fuson didn't need the agents to tell him what he already suspected: The paintings appeared to be forgeries. The FBI is investigating allegations that William Toye, 78, and his wife Beryl Ann, 68, have been selling forged paintings to unsuspecting art collectors and dealers since the 1970s. William Toye was arrested in the '70s on a charge of forging Hunter's work, but was never prosecuted.

"'We can all be fooled, and this man fooled me,' Fuson said. 'I gave him the benefit of the doubt at every turn, and that's not normally me.' Some of the collectors and dealers who purchased paintings from the Toyes say the biggest victim would be Hunter, who died in 1988 at age 101. The black folk artist taught herself to paint while living in Louisiana's rural Natchitoches Parish. Her paintings — believed to number in the thousands — depict cotton picking, baptisms, funerals and other scenes of plantation life. Since her death, paintings that once fetched several hundred dollars now routinely sell for thousands....

"Fuson wasn't an avid Hunter collector when William Toye visited his Baton Rouge store in November 2005. But he agreed to buy a few paintings after hearing Toye's story: His wife started buying paintings from Hunter in the 1960s. Their collection survived Hurricane Katrina, but the couple wanted to sell them after moving from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. 'The story read right to me. Nothing seemed wrong,' he recalled. Fuson found it strange that Toye kept changing his telephone number, but that didn't stop him from buying more paintings. It wasn't until February 2006 that Fuson heard from other buyers that Toye was suspected of selling forgeries."

October 30, 2009

My first article in the New Haven Advocate: Philip Pearlstein



Recently I was contacted by John Stoehr, the new editor at the New Haven Advocate, one of Connecticut's alt weekies, to write about Connecticut arts.  My first article, online this week, is about the Philip Pearlstein exhibition at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Art. Here's an excerpt.

"The Lyme Academy College of Fine Art is unabashedly among the most conservative art schools in the country. Unlike other schools where artists crank out disembodied conceptual projects, videos, and installations that are fashionable today, Lyme Academy College focuses on rigorous mastery of traditional drawing, painting, and sculpture, and on exhaustive perceptual study. So at first glance, the current exhibition of Philip Pearlstein's figurative work from 1990-2007 in the Chauncey Stillman Gallery seems perfectly at home. But deeper reflection unearths a distinct incongruence between Pearlstein and the college's chosen approach....

"Distinct from the students at the Lyme Academy College, whose training is solidly in the classical European tradition, Pearlstein's work sprang from his commercial art training at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, now part of Carnegie Mellon University, in 1940s Pittsburgh. According to a 2005 interview in The Brooklyn Rail, after a year there, Pearlstein was conscripted by the Army, where he worked as a draftsman making charts, weapons diagrams and other training materials. After the war, stationed in Italy, he was put to work painting road signs. In 1946, he returned to Pittsburgh and resumed his studies at Carnegie, where he met a classmate then known as Andy Warhola. In 1949, they moved to New York City to pursue careers in commercial art...." Read more.

"Philip Pearlstein: Recent Work," Chauncey Stillman Gallery, Lyme Academy College of Fine Art, Old Lyme, CT. Through November 24.

October 27, 2009

Profile: Tim Doud


Tim Doud, "Materiality," installation view at PriskaC. Juschka in 2007.

 
Tim Doud, "None of My Clothes,"2006-07, oil on linen, 30 x 22"

Anne Bentzel reports that Tim Doud plays with the notion of artifice. “Branding is artifice,” he says. ‘Wear something with a brand on it and you’re imposing an idea upon everyone who sees you.” Artifice, explored in Doud’s paintings through his subjects’ use of wigs, makeup, and clothing, acts as a theme for much of his internationally exhibited work. He explains, “In a series of self-portraits I pose myself in Paul Smith, Volkswagen, Nike, Coca Cola, and other brands, switching between a different pairs and style of glasses. In each work the subject’s face and upper torso fill out the frame, in the artless-seeming presentation of the mug shot. Which, then, is the self-portrait....The portrait, then, as a window into the self; the viewer's privileged view, then, depends upon the artistry and skill of the artist, who 'renders' in the materials of his trade the effervescence, the quickly passing glance into the self.”

Biographical info: Doud graduated from Columbia College with a B.S. in Painting and Drawing and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with an M.F.A in Painting and Drawing. He attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine. Priska C Juschka Fine Art in New York, NY and Galerie Brusberg, Berlin, Germany represent him. He has had solo shows at MC Magma in Milan, Italy, The Chicago Cultural Center in Chicago, IL and Art Basel in Basel Switzerland. He has received grants from The National Endowment for the Arts (Arts Midwest), the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundations and The Pollock Krasner Art Foundation. His work has been featured in group shows at PS1 (MOMA) in New York City, The Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, Artists Space in New York City and the Frye Art Gallery in Seattle, Washington and Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

Doud teaches at American University in DC with painters Deborah Kahn, Don Kimes, and William Willis.


October 24, 2009

A kind of yoga of learning, looking, focusing, doing, redoing, humbly, pridefully, hourly, daily


Arshile Gorky, "The Liver is the Cock's Comb," 1944. Courtesy of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY.

Holland Cotter saw the Arshile Gorky show in Philadelphia and reports in the NY Times that eclecticism rules. "As you move from Gorky playing Cézanne, to Gorky doing Cubism, to Gorky the Surrealist. Constant throughout, though, is an impression, as strong and invisible as a force field, of physical and psychic concentration. It radiates from meticulously drawn, plotted, eraser-smudged and redrawn studies for paintings and from the painted, scraped-down, piled up, scratched-into surfaces of the paintings themselves, which betray revisions made to incorporate new formal and technical information that Gorky gleaned from prowling museums, poring over art magazines and talking with artists. And much as he was one of the great absorbers in art, Gorky was also one of the great pretenders in life. The two roles, both about survival through invention, are closely related. Just as he changed aesthetic identities, he changed personal histories....

"In 1946 Gorky’s life started to unraveled with shocking force. His studio burned, with a significant loss of work. He had debilitating, humiliating surgery for rectal cancer and sank into a depression. Over the next year his marriage foundered; his wife had a fling with his mentor-friend Matta. In 1948, after losing the use of his painting arm in a car accident, Gorky hanged himself. Knowing about this end naturally darkens our view of all that came before, but darkness really was there early with his family’s life as refugees and his mother’s death, and despite the relocations and reinventions, it never withdrew. What kept life manageable was art, and specifically the practice of art, a practice that Gorky turned into an art, a kind of yoga of learning, looking, focusing, doing, redoing, humbly, pridefully, hourly, daily.

"Creation was salvation. That sounds romantic, but why put it any other way? Gorky was a Romantic, though that only becomes fully evident in his art at the end. If the Philadelphia show seems to take a long time to get to the end, the great stuff there is worth the wait. And besides, you’re getting some of it all along the way, in art that is all one thing, all one life."


"Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective," organized by Michael R. Taylor. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA. Through Jan. 10, 2010.

October 23, 2009

Up for adoption

I recently joined the Fine Art Adoption Network, one of Adam Simon's ongoing experiments to develop alternative strategies for art distribution. Today I put these two pieces, color studies made during my Habitat For Artists residency, up for adoption:





The goals of FAAN are to place artworks by committed artists into deserving homes and institutions, as well as to offer a channel for new audiences for contemporary art. FAAN wants to engage art enthusiasts who never thought of themselves as art collectors, and to introduce them to the experience and pleasures of owning and caring for contemporary art. Much of the artwork in FAAN was created by artists who have widely exhibited in museums and galleries. Yet, these artists have chosen to present their artwork here because it has the potential to generate a unique relationship with new audiences. As much as artists want to sell their work, we also want to communicate with others and have an impact on the lives of our audience.

Go check out the FAA Network and adopt some art today.

UPDATE (10/24/09, 10am): One of these pieces has already been placed with an artist/family in the Bay Area.
UPDATE (10/27/09): I just posted "Color 1," the painting pictured below on FAAN.



October 22, 2009

Elizabeth Gourlay's simple means


Elizabeth Gourlay, "Portolano 2."




 
Images from a studio visit with Elizabeth Gourlay in August, 2009.

My quiet Connecticut neighbor, Elizabeth Gourlay, paints allegories. Her paintings speak of science as they document experiments with Cartesian planes and bar graphs. They speak of music as shapes represent sound and colors represent volume. They also speak of history and culture through overlapping layers of seemingly worn or tattered paper, unraveling threads of ancient textiles, and scattered symbolic imagery juxtaposed with timeless pattern. In case you aren't familiar with Gourlay's work, she has a BFA from Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland and an MFA from Yale. Her work has been exhibited throughout New York, Connecticut, California, Maryland, and Indiana, most notably at the Cummings Arts Center at Connecticut College, The Hecksher Museum, The Drawing Center, and the Widener Gallery at Trinity College.

"Elizabeth Gourlay: Meridians," eo art lab, Chester, CT. Through Nov. 1, 2009.

Robin Mitchell: Where ordinary language is difficult


Robing Mitchell, "RM 08 10,"  2008, gouache on paper, 24 x 18"

Robin Mitchell is having her second solo show at Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica this month. Obsessive, detailed and intimate, the richly colorful marks of Mitchell’s intricately layered paintings suggest plant forms or other microscopic shapes laid out in symmetrical patterns. As Constance Mallinson observed in Art in America, “the shapes are archetypal and recall forms from Egyptian hieroglyphics and stylized decorative borders, Eastern mandalas, early modernist abstraction or popular 50s design motifs.” Mitchell's paintings, while introspective, demonstrate spiritual associations between the natural world and human nature. The works presented at Craig Krull are a conceptual extension of her previous paintings which explored the ways in which codes, used for converting information from one form into another, are particularly useful where ordinary language is difficult.

"Robin Mitchell: Paintings," Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica, CA. Through Nov. 21, 2009.

October 21, 2009

Abby Leigh: Shut your eyes


 Abby Leigh, "Focus 2," 2009, 50 x 50" dry pigment, oil, wax on canvas.

Wandering around Chelsea yesterday, I stopped in to see Abby Leigh's seductive paintings at Betty Cunningham. According to Leigh, the twelve 50 x 50" paintings reference Cezanne’s description of what the experience of looking at a painting should be: “Shut your eyes, wait, think of nothing. Now, open them…one sees nothing but a great colored undulation. What then? An irradiation and glory of color. This is what a picture should give us…an abyss in which the eye is lost, a secret germination, a colored state of grace. Lose consciousness.”

In the October issue of The Brooklyn Rail, Thomas Micchelli talks to Leigh about her images, influences, and process.

Thomas Micchelli (Rail): How long were you legally blind?
Abby Leigh: Actually, I didn’t know I was legally blind, which was quite fortuitous. My eyes were healthy, but I was profoundly myopic, to the point where I was classified legally blind until I had my Lasik surgery eight years ago. I think that my spatial orientation was formed early on when I was making close-ups of fruits and vegetables in my early watercolors—I had the orientation of a profoundly myopic person. I used to say that I worked with fruits and vegetables because the models didn’t talk, but it was that I was immersed in looking at their skins, textures, the way they decayed, what the source of their decay was, and the bruising on them. It was very interesting to me.

Rail: So you would stand inches away from your subject?
Leigh: Yes. It took me a long time to do these watercolors so, by the time I finished a painting of a bunch of radishes, I would have cycled through many bunches—the radish greens would wilt within a few hours, so that they had to be replaced constantly. This made me less slavish to the actual models, and I began to understand how radish greens react to placement, how they fall—the Platonic sense of radish greens. Looking back at those paintings, I see that I’d found a very simple solution to my problem, because I could see the vegetable models before me in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to see, say, a landscape. And having painted with watercolors affects my work still—to this day I’m interested in transparency and in the application of colors in terms of layers. Not only transparency that is physical, but philosophical transparency....

Rail: When did you develop your attraction to circular forms?
Leigh: I think it evolved gradually. First by inserting the reindeer horn slices, which were irregular circular forms. From there I began to make a series of works using Oxford English Dictionary definitions: “walnut” was the first time, and “oyster” came later.

Rail: You take a typographical element, the text from the dictionary, which traces the evolution of a word through various linguistic influences, and you superimpose an image of that particular thing over it. Are you making a metaphysical or philosophical comment on the constancy of the image and the shifting of language?
 Leigh: Yes, definitely, but it also all goes back to vision. If you can’t see something, you don’t know exactly where it starts, where it ends, or where it is in space, so you feel a need to try to pin things down. And I think that it was more of a comment on that. The OED always struck me as very funny. Ultimately, what emerges from reading definitions is not a cohesive image of, say, an oyster, but a fragmented kaleidoscope of meaning. An oyster, for example, can be a bivalve, a morsel of dark meat of fowl, a pressure mine from WWII and a laconic person. And the quotes are great too. My favorites: “she gave him oyster kisses” and “a certain oysterishness of eye and flabbiness of complexion.”

"Abby Leigh: The Sleeper's Eye," Betty Cunningham Gallery, New York, NY. Through November 14, 2009.

Think tank forming at Exit Art tonight

Through November 8, artists Daniel Lichtman and David Baumflek will host The Institute for Aesthetic Research (IAR) - a program of public events, talks and discussions focused on Art, Economics and Institutional Critique- at Exit Art on Wednesdays, 6-8pm. Tonight they will discuss the IAR's mission, and introduce Brooklyn artist Adam Simon, founder of Four Walls and Fine Art Adoption Network. I'll be there to join Simon's discussion about alternative strategies for art distribution, including events like the Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit. In this weekly series, the IAR has adopted a traditional  think tank format, which will culminate in a collectively-produced publication exploring the possibilities of "cultural production in contestation, or outside the realm of Neoliberalism." See you there.


2nd meeting- October 28th
Timothy Murray (Director, Society for the Humanities and Curator, Rose Goldson Archive of New Media Art, Cornell University; Managing Co-Moderator, -empyre- a soft-skinned space)  & Renate Ferro (Artist, Visiting Professor of Art, Cornell University; Managing Co-Moderator, -empyre- a soft-skinned space) discuss how politically critical and socially interventionist new media of the 90's and 2000's have  been recuperated through advanced strategies of viral marketing on the web.

3rd meeting- November 4th
John Baldacchino (Associate Professor of Art and Art Education, Teachers College, Columbia University) will discuss pedagogy and politics in contemporary art practice.

4th meeting- November 11th
Ethan Spigland (Filmmaker and screenwriter, Professor, New School for Social Research, Professor of Humanities and Media Studies, Pratt Institute.) will screen and discuss “Shallow”, a recent film collaboration with Malcolm Mclaren.

5th meeting- November 18th
David, Daniel and Adam Simon will help in the editing and discussion of the final publication.

Exit Art is located at 475 10th Avenue at the corner of 36th Street, 1 block east of the Javits Center. Exit Art is located near midtown, within walking distance of Chelsea, Broadway and the Hudson River.  Subway: #A,C,E trains to 34th St./Penn Station at 8th Avenue. Walk 2 blocks west to 10th Ave and 2 blocks north to 36th St. or #1,2,3,7,9.A.C.E trains to 42nd St./Times Square Station at 8th Avenue. 

October 19, 2009

Are contemporary conceptual projects doomed to be misunderstood historical curiosities?


Denis Dutton, a professor of the philosophy of art at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and the author of The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution, argues in a NYTimes op-ed that conceptual art, situated in the intellectual zeitgeist, will never be able to transcend time the way well-crafted objects do."One trait of the ancestral personality persists in our aesthetic cravings: the pleasure we take in admiring skilled performances. From Lascaux to the Louvre to Carnegie Hall — where now and again the Homo erectus hairs stand up on the backs of our necks — human beings have a permanent, innate taste for virtuoso displays in the arts. We ought, then, to stop kidding ourselves that painstakingly developed artistic technique is passé, a value left over from our grandparents’ culture. Evidence is all around us. Even when we have lost contact with the social or religious ideas behind the arts of bygone civilizations, we are still able, as with the great bronzes or temples of Greece or ancient China, to respond directly to craftsmanship. The direct response to skill is what makes it possible to find beauty in many tribal arts even though we often know nothing about the beliefs of the people who created them. There is no place on earth where superlative technique in music and dance is not regarded as beautiful.

"The appreciation of contemporary conceptual art, on the other hand, depends not on immediately recognizable skill, but on how the work is situated in today’s intellectual zeitgeist. That’s why looking through the history of conceptual art after Duchamp reminds me of paging through old New Yorker cartoons. Jokes about Cadillac tailfins and early fax machines were once amusing, and the same can be said of conceptual works like Piero Manzoni’s 1962 declaration that Earth was his art work, Joseph Kosuth’s 1965 'One and Three Chairs' (a chair, a photo of the chair and a definition of 'chair') or Mr. Hirst’s medicine cabinets. Future generations, no longer engaged by our art 'concepts' and unable to divine any special skill or emotional expression in the work, may lose interest in it as a medium for financial speculation and relegate it to the realm of historical curiosity. In this respect, I can’t help regarding medicine cabinets, vacuum cleaners and dead sharks as reckless investments. Somewhere out there in collectorland is the unlucky guy who will be the last one holding the vacuum cleaner, and wondering why."


October 18, 2009

The Art Newspaper and Robert Storr

The Art Newspaper interview with Robert Storr has been circulating online for the past few days. In case you haven't already seen it posted elsewhere, here's an excerpt.

TAN: The topic of the Frieze panel is “Have Art and Theory Drifted Apart?” What are your thoughts?
Robert Storr: I’m not sure that art and theory were ever that close to begin with. There are some artists who read theory seriously but not all that many. And some of the theoretical writing that was done about artists was very important, but what people now call theory is a vast field and a relatively small amount of it bears directly on art, or at least on art production.

We’re in a very strange situation where some artists have derived a lot from their theoretical reading but never as systematically as people are inclined to think. Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who I know read theory carefully, nonetheless made a point of saying that it was not to be read in a kind of rigorous, academic way, but to help unblock thoughts and open up questions.

A lot of artists don’t want to tip their hands and show how selective and shallow their understanding is; a lot of people who do theory full time don’t really want to acknowledge that the process of making art is fundamentally different from the process of writing theory. And, therefore, even though you may share a vocabulary, you don’t share at all the same kind of generative process or goals.

TAN: What do you think the future of art theory is?
RS: I think the future of all kinds of philosophical discourse depends on their utility, their accuracy and description. Having been partially educated in France I was aware that a lot of French theory is conditioned by specifically French situations. The decline of a unified left in French politics, the death of existentialism as a movement…those terms are not applicable to America in a direct way, so you can read French theory in an American context but you also ought to read American history to counterbalance it. Thirty years ago everyone read Wittgenstein—how many read him today? If you want to talk about Jasper Johns, if you want to talk about Bruce Nauman, you should read Wittgenstein. People who have real theoretical minds read widely, they read selectively and they read for use.

TAN: What kind of advice are you giving art students now?
RS: I’m telling them that this is actually a fine time to be in art school because, when I was in art school, when a lot of people I admire were in art school in the 1960s and 1970s, there was no money. If you go into it knowing that you will probably not be rewarded lavishly, but you can in fact continue to work, you’re on a much better footing than if you go into it trying to make a huge impact when you’re 23 or 24, and then maintain that for the next 60 years. You know John Baldessari is someone whom everyone admires, but people by and large forget that he destroyed all of his “successful work” and started all over again. I’m interested in people who make good art, whenever they make it, and I think a lot of the best artists today are late bloomers. I’m a big fan of both Raoul De Keyser and Tom Nozkowski, who I put in the Venice Biennale [2007]. Tom is 65 and Raoul is 78 and neither one of them really hit it until they were way past the age when most people think it would be the end of your career.

Read the entire interview here.

October 17, 2009

Danny Simmons: Twisted looping lines and amped-up color schemes


Danny Simmons, "Broken and Now Through," 2007, mixed media on canvas, 30 x 30"

Ben Genocchio reports in the NY Times that Danny Simmons's 15-year retrospective of abstract gestural paintings at the Spanierman Gallery in East Hampton shakes up the staid east end. "Simmons works in a mixture of formal styles derived from the early 20th-century Cuban Surrealist Wilfredo Lam, contemporary African art and various tribal artifacts from around the world. The paintings in this show, pulsing and occasionally brash, are very different from the usual polished but staid art that you see hanging in galleries in the Hamptons. They shake things up.... Totemic, mythic imagery abounds, giving the best of the paintings visual force and a disquieting strangeness. Whimsy is also prevalent, be it in the artist’s twisted looping lines or amped-up color schemes.

"The exhibition has its weaknesses, which are sometimes glaringly apparent. One is the inclusion of many unimpressive paintings, including all of those in the downstairs space, which do little to advance the artist’s reputation; another is that Mr. Simmons still seems to be struggling with the legacy of Mr. Lam. There are works here that look too much like an undigested homage to the Cuban master, rather than a new development. Mr. Simmons still needs to find his own voice."

"Danny Simmons: From There to Here," Spanierman Gallery, East Hampton, NY. Through Nov. 23, 2009.

Richard Mayhew's improvisational trees



Richard Mayhew "Untitled (Purple Landscape)." Courtesy Museum of the African Diaspora.

 
Richard Mayhew, "Westwood," 1977, oil on canvas, 54 x 44", de Saisset Museum permanent collection, Gift of Ronald R. ('70) and Gwendolyn O'Neil.

Richard Mayhew has been labeled an American Impressionist, a neo-Barbizon, a romantic Realist and a painter of Expressionistic landscapes. 'I don't like characterizations too much,' chuckled Mayhew, walking through a new show of his works at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. 'But if anything, I guess I'm an improvisationalist. My painting has to do with that spontaneous moment.' Like a jazz great who mixes classical with scat, ballads with bebop, Mayhew's work is a blend of styles, from landscapes reminiscent of Monet to abstractions in the style of Clyfford Still. At its best, says Mayhew, 84, it is created from 'a moment of spiritual truth.'"


"'To me, the tree is spiritual symbolism,' said Mayhew, who is tall and elegant and has a quick and hearty laugh. 'I like the tree because it's so anonymous. I loved it when I overheard two women looking at one of my paintings and one woman said, 'That's Oregon,' and the other woman said, 'No, that's Scotland.' He uses landscapes, he said, to interpret his feelings. 'Landscape has no space, no identity. It allows the painting to be about emotion.' As someone who has lived through racial strife and oppression, Mayhew also used landscapes to represent survival and renewal. 'If there is outside oppression, you find ways to survive.'" (via Julian Guthrie, San Francisco Chronicle)

"The Art of Richard Mayhew," curated by Bridget Cooks. Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA. Through Jan. 10. 2010. Also on view "The Art of Richard Mayhew: After the Rain," The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, September 9 – November 22, 2009, and "The Art of Richard Mayhew: Journey’s End," The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara, September 26 – December 4, 2009.

October 15, 2009

"Conservative, but still appreciated by people"


 Matthew Cerletty, "David Brooks," (2009)

Via Sarah Douglas at ArtInfo: At the booth of Antwerp gallery Office Baroque is a small, highly realistic painting of New York Times op ed columnist David Brooks, by young American artist Matthew Cerletty, priced at $14,000. Ask gallerist Wim Peeters why on earth Cerletty would want to depict Brooks, who is as well-known for his right-leaning views as he is for his highly readable 2000 book Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There, and you'll get a curious, yet strangely astute answer: "He wanted subject matter that is in line with the act of painting itself — conservative, but still appreciated by people."

October 14, 2009

Yigal Ozeri's paintings

Matthew Bourbon writes in ArtForum that Yigal Ozeri's paintings of young girls may be problematic conceptually, but they're somewhat redeemed by his sensitive paint handling. "Taking a page from Carl Jung’s theories on the feminine 'anima,' [fond memories of Prof. Bill Parker and grad school just came flooding back --Ed.] Yigal Ozeri approaches realism as a means to project his own thoughts into the interior lives of several young women. In a recent interview, he stated that he befriended the women depicted in his works because they live off the grid, and his fascination with the substance of their lives enticed him to portray a 'new generation.'

"As problematic as Ozeri’s psychological transposition into the minds of his subjects may seem, the technical prowess in his intricate paintings occasionally mitigates the overt conceptual faults of his project. Still, from a distance, Ozeri’s works on paper appear too familiar. They mimic the look of soft-core porn images of female nudes gallivanting through nature, as well as Justine Kurland’s earnest photographs of young girls as bathers, first seen in the 1999 group show 'Another Girl, Another Planet.' While Kurland’s images posit a slightly Arcadian freedom from the travails of maturing from girlhood to womanhood, Ozeri’s paintings feel closer to the model-as-muse paradigm, where obsession with a young, albeit atypical, female is portrayed for consumption.

"If one is able to temporarily forgive the failures of Ozeri’s subject, close examination of his paintings reveal sensitive and sometimes beautiful renderings of light effects and physical surfaces. Still, the Andrew Wyeth–like references, as well as the digital sources Ozeri manipulates to create his art, ultimately undercut the sense of knowing these women. The artist’s attachment to a photographic notion of 'reality' does not make his subjects more particular, just more anonymous."

"Yigal Ozeri: Desire for Anima," Mike Weiss Gallery, New York, NY. Through Oct. 24, 2009.

"Justine Kurland, This Train is Bound for Glory," Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, NY. October 15 - November 14, 2009.

Painting isn't so easy



Martin Gayford reports on the latest startling departure for Damien Hirst: In his new show at the Wallace Collection, he's made the paintings himself. "As always with Hirst, the presentation is theatrically brilliant. The pictures, all done between 2006 and 2008, hang on walls covered in specially woven French silk at the heart of one of the choicest arrays of old masters and objets d’art in the world. When you leave the galleries where Hirst’s pictures are displayed, you walk into a room studded with masterpieces by Rembrandt, Titian, Rubens and Van Dyck. So for sheer chutzpah, he can’t be faulted. On the other hand, in that Olympian context, it’s hard to be fair to these slightly tentative new works. Once you get past the sumptuous silk and old-master frames, you can’t help noticing that this is a series of pastiches of Francis Bacon, circa 1950."

From the BBC News round up of reviews: Sarah Crompton: “Although they have impact as a a group,individually many of the paintings simply don’t pass muster. Details are tentatively painted; compositions fall apart under scrutiny.”Adrian Searle: “At its worst, Hirst’s drawing just looks amateurish and adolescent.” Rachel Campbell-Johnston: “Think Francis Bacon meets Adrian Mole.” And Tom Lubbock says of the paintings: “They’re extremely boring. Hirst, as a painter, is at about the level of a not-very-promising, first-year art student.” Christopher Howse: "I’m glad Damien Hirst has sobered up and had children and gone to live in the country. He’d better find himsef some hobby, but not, I suggest, painting."

"Damien Hirst: No Love Lost: Blue Paintings," Wallace Collection, London. Through Jan. 24, 2010.


October 13, 2009

Burchfield in Buffalo and LA


Charles Burchfield, "Two Ravines," watercolor on paper, 1934-43. Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Gift of the Benwood Foundation. Photo by James Madden, 204 Studios.

In the LA Times, Christopher Knight calls the Hammer Museum's Charles Burchfield show, organized by artist Robert Gober, breathtaking. In ArtNews, Hilarie M. Sheets reports that Gober started by plumbing the artist’s vast archives—some 30,000 works, including paintings, drawings, journals, doodles, and scrapbooks—at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo. "This museum, devoted to Burchfield and other western New York artists, reopened last November in a spacious new Gwathmey Siegel–designed building after being housed since its opening, in 1966, at Buffalo State College. Up now at the center (through the 29th of next month) is 'The Architecture of Painting,' which features little-known Burchfield works from 1920. The show was organized by Nannette Maciejunes, executive director of Ohio’s Columbus Museum of Art, where it was previously on view. It also traveled to New York’s DC Moore Gallery, which represents the Charles Burchfield Foundation.

"When Gober found a 1966 newspaper report of a break-in at Burchfield’s studio on the night of the Burchfield Penney’s grand opening, he decided to put it on the back cover of the Hammer exhibition catalogue. He thought the headline, 'Artist Honored, Home Robbed,' was a “metaphor about the risk you take when you put something very personal of yourself out to the public.'

"He recognizes that he and Burchfield may seem an odd pair, but Gober wants to keep the focus on his subject. 'Of course people are free to bring their connections to it, because there are connections—I’ve made wallpaper and depict the American Scene to a certain degree,' he says. 'But I’m much more removed and mediated about nature than Burchfield was. His favorite thing was to go out painting with his easel, stand knee-deep in a swamp, and get stung by mosquitoes.'"

"It feels very much like an artist's show, one that springs from an empathy for working studio process." Knight reports in his LA Times review. "Each room includes vitrines with fascinating adjunct material -- magazines, tools, sketches, correspondence, catalogs, etc. None is more poignant than the final display, featuring two precarious stacks of more than 60 manila folders carefully cataloging a selection of Burchfield's voluminous annotated journals. We can't look inside them, sheltered beneath their plexiglass cover. But the display is an eloquent testament to the fact that, with an artist of Burchfield's deep and prodigious gifts, we will never get to the bottom of it. In the meantime, we have his paintings."

The exhibition is accompanied by a 184-page, fully-illustrated catalogue, Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield, edited by Cynthia Burlingham and Robert Gober with essays by Robert Gober, critic Dave Hickey, Hammer Deputy Director Cynthia Burlingham, Burchfield Penney Art Center Head of Collections and the Charles Cary Rumsey Curator Nancy Weekly, and Burchfield Penney Art Center Research Assistant Tullis Johnson.

"Heat Waves in a Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield," organized by Robert Gober with help  from Cynthia Burlingham, UCLA Hammer Museum, Westwood, CA. Through January 3, 2010. Traveling to the Whitney Museum and the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo.

"The Architecture of Painting: Charles Burchfield, 1920," Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY. Through November 29, 2009

Adopt some fine art today


Austin Thomas,"Mars," 1997, 3 x 4"


Austin Thomas, recent drawing from sketchbook.

Austin Thomas announced this week that she will placing more artwork up for adoption at the Fine Art Adoption Network, and I'll be adding some soon, too. If you want to see Thomas's pieces in real life, she told me she'll be showing them during the Elizabeth Foundation Open Studios, which begins on Thursday night. FAAN is an online network that uses a gift economy to connect artists and potential collectors. All of the artworks on view at the site are available for adoption. FAAN's goal is to help increase and diversify the population of art owners and to offer artists new means for engaging their audience. Much of the artwork at FAAN was created by artists who have widely exhibited in museums and galleries, yet they have chosen to present their artwork at FAAN because it offers the potential of generating a unique relationship with new audiences.

FAAN collaborators include Art in General, Arthouse, Artspace, BRIC Rotunda Gallery, Culture Pundits, Delta Axis, Gallery 400, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and Transformer. Recently Art in General, FAAN’s original sponsor, announced that, due to the sour economy, it can no longer cover the costs of this project, but luckily, the costs are relatively small. "Our server costs fifty dollars a month and we need another fifty for upkeep and occasional changes to the site," says FAAN founder Adam Simon. "Please support this project—it will not be able to continue otherwise. All donations are tax deductible. And of course we will acknowledge supporters on the site unless you choose to remain anonymous." Donations can be made through Art in General, a fiscal sponsor of this project, here.

"Open Studios 09," Elizabeth Foundation, 323 W. 39th Street, New York, NY. Opening Reception: October 15, 6:00-10:00 pm. Open Studios: October 16, 6:00-9:00 pm and October 17, 1:00-5:00 pm.



October 11, 2009

NY Times Art in Review: Matt Chambers, Xu Zhen


Matthew Chambers, "A Day of Which we Say, This is the Day,"
2009, acrylic and oil on canvas, 96 x 48"

"Matt Chambers: An Activity So Pure," Rental Gallery, Lower East Side. Through Oct. 17.
Roberta Smith: The title of Matt Chambers’s second New York gallery show, “An Activity So Pure,” seems to invite an ending like “Deserves to Be Violated, Ridiculed and Hammed Up.” At least that is what Mr. Chambers appears to be doing to painting, which he took up a few years ago while pursuing an M.F.A. in filmmaking. His paintings are big, varied in subject, painted with remorseless gusto and installed cheek to jowl on the gallery’s four walls. The resulting onslaught of 22 8-by-4-foot canvases is both robust and grim: painterly with an overload of Conceptual attitude.




Xu Zhen, "Widespread 5," 2009, acrylic on canvas, 68 x 112 x 2 1/4"

"Xu Zhen: Lonely Miracle, Middle East Contemporary Art Exhibition," James Cohan Gallery, Chelsea. Through Saturday (yesterday). Holland Cotter: For his second show at James Cohan, Mr. Xu has assembled another tableau, this one a fake group show of what is advertised as contemporary art from the Middle East. The works seem to jibe with that description, from mural-size paintings filled with Arabic texts and anti-American cartoons to a sculpture embedding Middle Eastern antiquities in a big ball of razor wire. If it all looks a bit done-before, that’s the point. We’ve been getting art something like this internationally ever since the war in Iraq gave the art market a chance to create a vogue for things Middle Eastern, a designation that has of late included a rash of new art from Iran. Mr. Xu’s show is clearly a comment on this specific opportunism, and the general practice of cultural marketing by stereotype: Middle Eastern always means guns and sheiks, Chinese still means Mao, and so on. He is also raising obvious questions about the authenticity, not to speak of the efficacy, of issue-oriented work. If a show of pseudo-Middle Eastern political art cooked up by a Chinese artist for a New York solo can look “real,” isn’t the whole genre just one big, salable joke? And, if so, doesn’t it follow that nonpolitical art, art-about-art — abstract painting, say — is the real deal after all, and way to go? I think I know the answer, but I very much look forward to Mr. Xu’s take on that particular scam.

Read the entire Art in Review column here.

Institutionalized self-promotion: I'm all that




The Promotion Project, which includes my (embarrassingly) self-regarding application for promotion and all your amazing letters of support, has grown to fill 5 binders and one accordion folder. Today I hope to finish the narrative summary, which at this point includes far too many “In addition to...” type phrases, and desperately needs a good edit. Luckily the award-winning writer who works downstairs has agreed to help.

Also, the College Art Association has expressed interest in showing the project at their Annual Conference in Chicago this February. Can you think of a more appropriate venue? I can’t. And besides, I'd love to spend a few days in Chicago, even in February.

Update: The project's new official title is "Self-Study."

October 9, 2009

Ran Ortner wins biggest art prize ever



Ran Ortner, a painter from Brooklyn, was named the grand prize winner Thursday night in the ArtPrize, a public competition in Grand Rapids, Mich. He will receive $250,000, which organizers of the ArtPrize said was the largest cash prize ever awarded in an art competition. In all, the finalists shared $449,000 in awards. He's represented by Causey Contemporary (formerly  Ch'i Contemporary Fine Art) in Williamsburg. (via)

Online archive of van Gogh's letters launched in Amsterdam


The last page of a three-page letter Vincent van Gogh wrote to Paul Gauguin from Auvers-sur-Oise, on or about Tuesday, 17 June 1890

The van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam recently launched "Vincent van Gogh: The Letters," a fascinating website that includes images and text of all van Gogh's correspondence, annotated with paintings on sketches. His letters have always been considered highly literary, but for painters they hold special interest for his discourses on process and daily practice. I've often thought that van Gogh would undoubtedly be among the best bloggers if he were alive today. The archive, searchable by correspondent, location, and period, is also available as a 6 volume, 2164 page, edition with over 4300 images, but that seems far less convenient than the online version.



"It’s like I don’t know what I’m doing but I know how to do it, and it’s very strange"


Luc Tuymans, "The Secretary of State," 2005, oil on canvas , 17.91 x 24.21 x 1.57"

In The New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl declares that Luc Tuymans is the most challenging painter in recent history. "A retrospective of the fifty-one-year-old Belgian artist at the Wexner Center for the Arts, in Columbus, Ohio, invites a verdict. Mine is a thumbs-up. Tuymans’s thinly brushed, drab-looking (but sneakily lovely) canvases, usually based on banal photographs with wispy political associations, dramatize the fallen state of painting since the nineteen-sixties. Tuymans also discovers in the very humiliation of the medium a surprising vitality. He does so with audacity, in terms of subject matter. He works in thematic series, whose topics have included the Holocaust, disease, Flemish nationalism, Belgian colonialism, post-9/11 America, and the mystique of Walt Disney. One of Tuymans’s first definitive works is a 1986 painting of the gas chamber at Dachau. The first-person touch of his brush is the work’s sole, and frail, emotional anchor. Tuymans is Flemish, a native and lifelong resident of Antwerp. He quit painting in the early nineteen-eighties to pursue filmmaking, resuming in 1985. Tuymans’s works would rather whisper than shout, though always in a vicinity of raw nerves.

"He has recently painted both a series touching on Belgian politics and a suite responding to America in the era of George W. Bush. His 2005 painting of Condoleezza Rice both demands and rejects answers. Tuymans articulates a modern tradition that gives equal weight to the dazed German Romanticism of Friedrich and the wide-awake Parisian modernity of Manet. He has compared his method to the self-developing of Polaroids, saying of his process, 'It’s like I don’t know what I’m doing but I know how to do it, and it’s very strange.' Tuymans is influential among younger painters, but he is not apt to become popular."

Check out Tuymans's cell phone tour of the show here.

"Luc Tuymans," curated by co-curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn and Helen Molesworth. Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH. Through Jan. 3, 2010. "Luc Tuymans" travels from the Wexner Center to SFMOMA, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Related post:
Luc Tuymans anticipates "steady sales"

October 7, 2009

Virginia Martinsen's solution


Virginia Martinsen's studio.

In The Village Voice Robert Shuster reports that newcomer Virginia Martinsen is reinvigorating Ab Ex ideas and process. Abstract expressionism is now so embedded in our culture—accepted as a kind of brand name—that new work too often reflects our complacency with the style; the visions are bland, sloppy, or ill-conceived, aspiring to little more than unfocused doodling (à la early Cy Twombly) or, worse, inoffensive mélanges of color that corporations buy for their lobbies.

"So when a young newcomer shows up, in her first solo show, with a bold approach, mature ideas, and a tendency for restraint, it's almost startling. Such is the case with 28-year-old Virginia Martinsen, who brings unhurried vigor and a somber palette to her particular method of action painting. Inspired by her visits to the castle of Austrian wild-man Hermann Nitsch (performer/paint-thrower/blood-spatterer with a good website), Martinsen pours a solution of oils, varnish, and dry pigment onto a canvas lying flat and, with only a little guidance, lets the puddles flow. It may sound simple, but Martinsen brings evident seriousness to whatever decisions she makes (particularly about when to stop). The work is elegant and haunting, a combination of brooding darkness, watercolor-like delicacy, and powerful movement."

"Virginia Martinsen: Face on Mars," ATM Gallery, New York, NY. Through  October 17, 2009.

October 6, 2009

Blake: Promulgating his paeans to political revolution and Anglican apostasy


William Blake, "The Angel of the Divine Presence Bringing Eve to Adam," ca.1803, watercolor, pen and black ink over graphite on paper; 17 7/16 x 13 1/8". Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum.

In The Brooklyn Rail, Thomas Micchelli reports that William Blake could be the patron saint of our DIY era. "Compared to the dash and polish of Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds, the trendsetters of his time, Blake’s artwork is plodding and archaic. His figure drawings, at first glance, seem like clumsily muscle-bound imitations of Michelangelo, rounded and patterned so artificially that they could pass for doorknob designs. His color was often tonal and sometimes bloodless. And his illuminated books, as he called them, turn their back on printing technology since Gutenberg, using a single copper plate for both text and image. He had one retrospective in his lifetime, which was mounted in his family’s hosiery shop and panned by the one critic who wrote about it. Like Cézanne, he was discovered in the latter part of his life by a group of younger artists, but while Cézanne’s admirers became Fauves and Cubists, an epoch-defining avant-garde, Blake’s followers branded themselves the Ancients, rejected all modern trends in art (for a while, at least) and quickly fell into obscurity.

"He was the paragon of DIY, seizing control of the means of production to promulgate his paeans to political revolution and Anglican apostasy. He was interdisciplinary to the core, not recognizing (or, more likely, not noticing) categories or credentials. His art was the sum of his passions, wresting perfection from impurity and inconsistency through the ferocity of his convictions. Resisting the masterpiece syndrome, his most important works are small scale and serial—incremental rather than overwhelming in their effect. His anticipation of the ever-burgeoning art of the graphic novel is too obvious to discuss. And his achievement remains well outside any arc, pantheon, or canon. He wrote his own narrative, and illustrated it as well."

"William Blake’s World: A New Heaven Is Begun,” curated by Charles Ryskamp, Anna Lou Ashby, and Cara Denison. The Morgan Library and Museum, New York, NY.  Through January 3, 2010.

October 4, 2009

Revisiting Hockney's iPhone drawings


David Hockney in his London studio with his iPhone, which has its own mini easel. (via)

When I originally read about David Hockney's new iPhone drawings, I didn't give them much thought, especially after seeing the ridiculous picture (above) of the iPhone on a mini easel in the Mail Online. This week Lawrence Weschler contributes an interesting article about the drawings in the New York Review of Books that casts the project in a new, less gimmicky light. "Over the past six months, Hockney has fashioned literally hundreds, probably over a thousand, iPhone images, often sending out four or five a day to a group of about a dozen friends, and not really caring what happens to them after that. (He assumes the friends pass them along through the digital ether.) These are, mind you, not second-generation digital copies of images that exist in some other medium: their digital expression constitutes the sole (albeit multiple) original of the image....

"Increasingly, over the past several months, it is the summer dawn, rising over the seabay outside his bedroom window, that has been capturing Hockney's attention. 'I've always wanted to be able to paint the dawn,' Hockney explains. 'After all, what clearer, more luminous light are we ever afforded? Especially here where the light comes rising over the sea, just the opposite of my old California haunts. But in the old days one never could, because, of course, ordinarily it would be too dark to see the paints; or else, if you turned on a light so as to be able to see them, you'd lose the subtle gathering tones of the coming sun. But with an iPhone, I don't even have to get out of bed, I just reach for the device, turn it on, start mixing and matching the colors, laying in the evolving scene. He has now accomplished dozens of such sequential studies, sending them out in real time, so that his friends in America wake to their own account of the Bridlington dawn—two, five, sometimes as many as eight successive versions, sent out minutes apart, one after the next.'

"I asked Hockney whether he'd mind my sharing some of these images with a wider audience across a printed medium, and he said, not really, he more or less assumed that the pictures would one by one find their way into the world. 'Though it is worth noting,' he adds, lighting one of his perennial cigarettes, 'that the images always look better on the screen than on the page. After all, this is a medium of pure light, not ink or pigment, if anything more akin to a stained glass window than an illustration on paper.'" Read more.






October 3, 2009

Cleveland artist scores


  Julian Stanczak, "Constellation in Green,"2004–05, acrylic on board, 36 panels, each 16 x 16"

In The Plain Dealer, Steven Litt reports that Cleveland's nonprofit and commercial galleries are knocking themselves out this fall, in the middle of a recession, to pay homage to scores of Cleveland artists. At this very moment, half a dozen key venues are showing more than 250 works by 100-plus local artists in shows that are selective, well focused, well organized and well worth seeing. Litt recommends a "handsome exhibition on the Op Art paintings of Julian Stanczak, who, at age 80, ranks as one of the most important artists in Cleveland's history. The show captures the joy Stanczak finds in making precise geometric abstractions that tingle the eye with scintillating colors and vibrant patterns of line." Stanczak asserts that his paintings remain "open to interpretation," since as an artist, his creative process centers not on the question of "'what is it,' but rather on 'what does it do to you?'"

"Julian Stanczak: Recent Work," curated by Indra K. Lacis, Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Cleveland, OH. Through January 10th, 2010




A note to procrastinators (and other busy people)



The Promotion Project has taken over my tiny attic workroom.

A few days ago I received this note via email from the  other Sharon in Seattle:

“I wanted to let you know I’m working fast on a letter for your [Promotion] Project - I’d really like to participate! I’m afraid if I mail it today, it might not get to New York from Seattle in time - do you think it’s all right if it’s a day late or so? If not, I can try to send it priority. Sorry for the last minute rush!”

If you, too, procrastinated (or are just busy) but are still planning to participate in the project, that’s fine. No need to pay extra postage to make the deadline. Just let me know that you’re working on it, and I’ll save space. I'm beginning to sound like a relentless NPR hostess during the fall fund raising campaign, but thanks for supporting the legitimacy of blogging and other social media, and confirming their importance in contemporary art discourse.

Please send letters to:
Sharon Butler
Department of Visual Arts
Eastern Connecticut State University
83 Windham Street
Willimantic, CT 06226

Related story:
M.I.T. Taking Student Blogs to Nth Degree



October 2, 2009

Song Kun's paintings emerge from a fog


Song Kun,"New Yorker," 2008, oil on canvas, 17 3/4" x 23 3/4"

On the LA Times blog, Christopher Knight reports that Beijing painter Song Kun joins Vija Celmins, Gerhard Richter in the 1960s, Ellen Phelan in the 1980s, and Luc Tuymans as a painter of fuzzy, blissed-out, monochromes. "The effect is dreamlike and vaguely ominous. It encourages close scrutiny of disjointed vistas that refuse to coalesce and fully disclose themselves. Song paints in grays, whites and sepia tones, with only hints of lifelike color rising from the surface, like a vision emerging from fog. A sense of unrelieved estrangement separates the artist (and the viewer) from the quotidian world recorded in the pictures." This is her first US solo show.  Read more. 

"Song Kun: Seeking the Recluse But Not Meeting," Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Through October 29.

NY Times Art in Review: Austé, Shishkin, Abstract Abstract


Austé painting

"Austé: Paintings and Works on Paper," Mitchell Algus Gallery, Chelsea. Through Oct. 10. Roberta Smith: Austé’s work looked more anomalous in the ’80s than it does now, after a general blurring of the line between drawing and painting and the proliferation of girl-dominated worlds by artists like Rita Ackermann and Lisa Yuskavage. In retrospect it might be described as watered-down Pattern and Decoration pointed toward the planet of punk, where Halloween always seemed in the offing. And it could turn nasty. The show’s opening salvo is a large drawing that depicts a few orange orbs enmeshed in thorny tangles of glinting black graphite. Scary letters spell the title: “Biochemical Vignette.”



Installation view, "Abstract Abstract"


Xylor Jane, "Via Crucis VIII "D.O.J." 2009, oil on panel, 33 x 39"

"Abstract Abstract," Foxy Production, Chelsea. Through Oct. 10. Roberta Smith: The double title of “Abstract Abstract” implies multiple possibilities for a familiar language or using it at a remove, several generations out. Either way this show brings together seven young, mostly unknown artists who make two-dimensional works generally devoid of recognizable forms. It is unusually lively because the diversity of their work is not just stylistic, but also physical and methodological.... Taken together, the work in this show foments optimism about something like painting used to pursue something like abstraction. Artists include Michael Bell-Smith, Heather Cook, Hilary Harnischfeger, Gabriel Hartley, Xylor Jane, Ilia Ovechkin, and Max Pitegoff and Travess Smalley.



Dasha Shishkin, "Men Like That," installation view

 
Dasha Shishkin, "That only which is real and permanent is truly good," 2009, acrylic, ink and conté on canvas, 82.63 x 96"

"Dasha Shishkin: Men Like That," Zach Feuer, Chelsea. Through Oct. 17
Karen Rosenberg: A nervy, sinuous line is the primary weapon of Dasha Shishkin, a young painter and printmaker. It’s unleashed with a vengeance in her latest show of paintings and drawings, her first at this gallery. Ms. Shishkin tends to deploy her line in quasi-figurative fantasy worlds, where it can conjure Egon Schiele, Brice Marden, Henry Darger or Japanese woodblock prints....The only misstep here is the gimmicky installation. Framed and unframed drawings of various sizes are herded into corners, as if they couldn’t be trusted to stand alone. Ms. Shishkin should have more confidence in her narrative and decorative fluency.

Read the entire Art in Review column here.