Jason Lazarus, Self portrait as an artist making something contemporary, 2004, 17 x 23 inches, archival ink jet.
Observing a curatorial echo chamber privileging appropriation and conceptualism, art critic Jerry Saltz made his own list of artists engaging the plastic arts after 1999. The writer selected nineteen women and fourteen men — thirty-three in total in keeping with the Younger Than Jesus triennial — none of whom have been in a Whitney Biennial (with three exceptions). We consider this a challenge and respond with our own list of artists. The selection reflects our desire for a better integration of conceptual and material-based practices. We also remained dedicated to showcasing artists emerging after 1999. This is the first in a three part post.
When Jason Lazarus graced our masthead two months ago, we described his practice as an understated subversive act. Challenging the immense field of documentary footage produced during Obama’s campaign, this photograph (capturing human sweat in the air) perfectly represents the excitement felt throughout the election. The apparent absence of a subject allows the viewer to fill in the narrative.
Sarah Oppenheimer, 554-5251, 2006, P.P.O.W. New York, NY
We saw Sarah Oppenheimer speak on a panel about Gordon Matta Clark last year at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Oppenheimer’s practice critically engages our perception of social space in the context of architectural history.
A virtuoso painter, Hernan Bas investigates nascent gay sexuality. His paintings often reveal the awkward and unsettling stages in which his subjects become aware of their desires.
Saul Chernick’s skillfully rendered drawings pair the style of a Dürer or Rembrandt etching with the line of Murakami. Exploring masculine identity,and Judeo-Christian beliefs, his compositions also challenge the Modernist grid.
To quote myself on Brent Green,
Paulina Hollers, an exhibition comprising three homemade animated videos and a tall spindly clock situated at the entrance of Bellwether Gallery, doesn’t appear at first to be so full of the unexpected. The work looks like a Tim Burton movie, it sounds like a combination of the spoken-word psychedelia of King Missile and the emo indie of Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst (his collaborators are actually blues rock band Califone and noise rockers the Majik Markers), it reads like a Virginia Woolf novel or a T.S. Eliot poem — everything feels familiar in some way. Yet the success of this exhibition does not lie in the reinvention of the wheel, but rather that Green never confuses the maudlin with the poetic or inconsistency with falseness.
Zach Harris, Auditory Odyssey, 2007-2008, acrylic and wood, 25 7/8 x 21 x 1 1/8 inches. Courtesy Max Protetch Gallery.
Warring camps at Art Fag City debate the need for a Judy Chicago reference in this entry. Certainly the palette and patterning share some similarity, but Harris presents a far more sophisticated and accomplished body of work (though we acknowledge Chicago’s historical importance). The frame and field uniquely work together generating forms that often resemble 90’s video game graphics.
The new whippersnapper of art and tech! g comprises a lead ball, perched on the “g” key of a laptop computer, that creates a seemingly infinite Word document– until the computer crashes.
Richard Aldrich, Paint as Revealing Three Gestures: Psychological, Structural and Philosophical, 2006, Oil and wax on linen. Image: Marc Foxx Gallery
We issued mixed reviews on Aldrich’s exhibition at Bortolami this January, but the good outweighs the bad. Known for his heterogeneous practice, Aldrich slashes through canvases to expose the stretcher, plays with abstraction to obliquely reference the face and ruminates on the nature of painting. Aldrich often pairs his paintings with pithy titles that point to the sentiment of his work.
“Secrecy, from the get go represents a contradiction”, Trevor Paglen told the New Museum last year. “What you’re trying to do with secrecy is to make things disappear, now the problem that you have is that the world is made up of stuff, and one of the physical properties of matter is that it reflects light, so right there you have this original contradiction. I think that there’s a whole number of contradictions that are in this world, and if you can find those contradictions, you can start to develop this visual vocabulary, this way of trying to come to terms with this secret world.”
We were lucky enough to receive a guided tour of Maison des Cartes at Invisible Exports, courtesy of a charismatic actress Lisa Kirk found via Craigslist. This Büchel-esque installation brands Maison des Cartes (usually shortened to May-Zone) time shares at the Brooklyn Navy Yard so successfully that the absurdity of the performance reveals the force of the pitch.
So rarely do we see work engaging the stage and abstract theatrical performance. Consequently, Alix Pearlstein is an obvious choice for our list. Her work doesn’t produce a cohesive narrative thread, so it can be difficult to describe to readers who haven’t seen it, but there’s a physicality to its engagement that’s intensely satisfying.