Will Heinrich

On View

‘Ragnar Kjartansson: Me, My Mother, My Father, and I’ at the New Museum

Exhibition view. (Photo Benoit Pailley/New Museum)

If irony is the antithesis of sincerity, Ragnar Kjartansson might represent their synthesis. A black-and-white photo of the artist at the age of 14, taken on the occasion of his confirmation, hangs alone on the wall that meets a visitor emerging from the New Museum’s elevators into Mr. Kjartansson’s current exhibition there, “Me, My Mother, My Father, and I.” Over and around this wall, 10 voices arranged in multipart polyphony by Kjartan Sveinsson (formerly of the Icelandic pop band Sigur Rós) come singing, while in the photo, young Master Kjartansson, sitting between his father and mother, thoughtfully waits it out with eyebrows raised and eyes downcast. The parents, Kjartan Ragnarsson and Guðrún Ásmundsdóttir, were costars in Iceland’s first feature film, Morðsaga (Murder Story, 1977), and Mr. Kjartansson—or so he was told, or so he tells us he was told—was conceived during shooting in May 1975. Read More

On View

‘Alain Biltereyst: Geo Land’ at Jack Hanley Gallery

Exhibition view. (Courtesy Jack Hanley Gallery)

Alain Biltereyst appropriates fragments of design he finds on the street to make acrylic-on-plywood paintings that read as a kind of left-handed minimalism with a strong undercurrent of Japanese heraldry. They come in two sizes, hardcover novel or dictionary, and are all unframed and untitled. He uses bright, primary reds and blues, as in one piece that stacks five X-acto blade shapes horizontally, in opposite directions, as if for a poster advertising a train station; a bilious yellow-green like millet porridge; light blue; lavender; pastel green; dark green; and a plastery, fingerprinted, hard-won, speck-marked white, through which red or blue gleam like blood under skin. But most of the work in the current show depends on indigo. Read More

On View

Vincent Fecteau at Matthew Marks Gallery

'Untitled' (2014) by Fecteau. (Courtesy the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery)

Vincent Fecteau wears his heart on the wall. At certain angles, it reveals a protean burst of mad gargoyles and respectful silhouettes. But its construction depends so heavily on the flat plane at its back that it would feel disingenuous to look into it any way but head on. Constructed in resin clay from overlapping petals, sharp elbows and obtuse turns and painted in the utilitarian colors of a Scandinavian garbage truck, it’s an organ of its own becoming, the free-form but laborious construction of a complex body around a center of nothingness. Read More

On View

‘Peter Dreher: Day by Day, Good Day’ at Koenig & Clinton

'Tag Um Tag Guter Tag Nr2441 Day' (2012) 
by Dreher. (Courtesy the artist and Koenig & Clinton)

Painting the same water glass over and over, as Peter Dreher has been doing since 1976, isn’t only a conceptual gesture. (Mr. Dreher first painted the hard-edged, heavy-bottomed cylindrical tumbler in 1974, but he didn’t conceive of making it a series, which he ultimately named “Day by Day, Good Day” and which now consists of more than 5,000 panels and canvases, until two years later.) Read More

On View

Stephen Lichty at Foxy Production

'Untitled' (2014) by Lichty. (Courtesy the artist and Foxy Production)

Stephen Lichty’s knockout solo gallery debut centers on an untitled monolith of columnar basalt sourced from Grand Coulee in Washington State. Six and a half feet tall and pale gray, it has a footprint naturally shaped like the trapezoidal pentagon on Superman’s breast. It is speckled with maroon dots and a few white patches, with a blackish water line whipping down its left edge like lightning; viewed from the gallery door, it looks simple and rectangular. Another facet is more liberally water stained, and a third is the purplish-black color of a bruise up to the top fifth or so, where it narrows slightly and then offsets, like the point of a stone axe, and is dappled with orange oxidation. Unweathered, the stone itself would be the color of a prehistoric night, as you can see in the brief, restrained curve that Mr. Lichty has polished onto the tip, just visible to either side of the taxidermied tomcat draped over it. A gray tabby with black spots, black rings on its legs, blond highlights and gently closed eyes, the cat stretches out in a curiously human position, its hind legs and tail hanging straight, its back relaxed, its forelegs extended to embrace what is at once its tombstone and its foundation, and its muzzle resting to one side of the corner like a napping child on its father’s shoulder. One tiny fang pokes out. Read More

On View

Lothar Baumgarten at Marian Goodman

Detail of 'Los Aristócratas de la Selva y la Reina de Castilla' (2011–12) by Baumgarten. (Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery)

Lothar Baumgarten lived among the fascinating, famously warlike and much written about Yãnomãmi people in Venezuela and Brazil for 18 months between 1978 and 1980, building up enough trust or good will to record 74 hours of sound and shoot nine transfixing hours of 16mm film, most of it black-and-white, of his hosts wrestling, fighting, weeping, drinking and building canoes. Read More

On View

‘Dinh Q. Lê: Warp, Woof, Zero, One’ at P.P.O.W.

'Witness II,' 2014. (Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W.)

Any image as famous, and as shocking, as Malcolm Browne’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of the first Buddhist monk to immolate himself in Saigon begins as a transparent window to the event pictured, a way for people all over the world to share a terrible momentary experience. But its very fame almost instantly turns it opaque. So Dinh Q. Lê, who lives and works in Vietnam, used Photoshop to stretch this image vertically and then printed it, in color, on a roll of glossy photo paper 150 feet long, as The Scroll of Thich Quang Duc. It hangs down the wall and billows in rolls halfway across the floor, with a rippling path of orange running through the middle of a background of blackish gray. Read More

On View

‘Sarah Charlesworth: Objects of Desire: 1983-1988’ at Maccarone

'Goat,' 1985. (Courtesy the artist and Maccarone)

In the mid-1980s, the late Sarah Charlesworth scoured found print sources for images of statuary, clothing, amulets, bowls, tigers, columns, giant bronze Buddhas, and other slippery bundles of half-conscious mental urges; cut them out; rephotographed them against rich monochrome backgrounds; and printed them as a series called Objects of Desire. Despite the typological organization, these icons are resolutely non-systematic—like pagan gods in smoky niches dense with double meanings and contradictions. Each one is obscured by the cloud of its formal epithets and ambiguous variant names. Read More

On View

‘Sara Cwynar: Flat Death’ at Foxy Production

'Contemporary Floral Arrangement 5 (A Compact Mass),' 2014. (Courtesy the artist and Foxy Production)

Sara Cwynar attacks photographic flatness, the digital manipulation of images, appropriation, accretion, our present-day cargo-cult apocalypse of worthless tchotchkes, and all the other instruments she’s young enough to take for granted instead of belaboring with a virtuosic ad-hoc analog gusto. Contemporary Floral Arrangement 5 (A Compact Mass), for example, began with a card deaccessioned from the New York Public Library Picture Collection that showed a flower arrangement in an alabaster urn. Ms. Cwynar scanned, enlarged and reprinted this image in sections on 30 new cards, which she then taped together on the floor. Then, before reshooting this reconstituted picture from above, she doubled the flowers with an adroitly colorful arrangement of hotel keys and soaps; matchbooks from the Ritz-Carlton, Betty and Harry’s wedding and a restaurant that’s been serving lunch and dinner since 1936; Scrabble tiles, pencils, a camera flash, dice, birthday candles, padlocks, yardsticks, power cords, shoelaces, price stickers, knitting needles, paperbacks, Pantone cards, a snapshot, a baseball card and a bilingual Canadian pillbox—every object casting its own centripetal shadow. Read More

On View

‘Rochelle Feinstein: Love Vibe’ at On Stellar Rays

Installation view. (Photo by Adam Reich/On Stellar Rays)

A small piece of fresco on panel hangs between the door and a projected rectangle of light. The projection is clean and pale, but the horizontal brushstrokes of the fresco are the kind of dense, marine color that might have been used to symbolize a green screen in the Renaissance. A comic-strip-style speech balloon extends across the bottom with a chipper, black-and-white phrase: “Love Your Work.” Inside the gallery is Love Vibe, a single installation of six oil paintings, each just over six feet square, showing the same speech balloon in reverse against notional panels of a similar dark green, on white walls, over a floor the color of spoiled butter. It’s a painting of looking at painting as a social performance, with “love your work,” thanks to the legions of jaw-clenching schmucks who try to achieve some petty glamour by dropping their pronouns, operating both as the empty tribute of insincere well-wishers and the mean-spirited advice, from society at large, to anyone lucky enough to be making art instead of driving a truck or stealing on Wall Street. At least, that’s how the phrase sounds by itself; but captured in Ms. Feinstein’s sweetly goofy balloons and reiterated in six earnestly unflattering angles, it’s almost tamed. Read More