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Back to Reviews 96

Rose Owens, 
Round rug with 
baskets and 
feathers, 1992. 
Denver Art Museum.

Bill Komoski, 
acrylic and mixed 
mediums on canvas, 
46 x 32 in.

Harriet Korman, 
Untitled, 1995, 
oil on linen, 
72 x 72 in.

Roland Flexner, 
Untitled, 1996, 
ink on paper, 
c. 29 x 23

Lisa Yuskavage,
Hamass, 1996, 
oil on canvas 
board, 6 x 8 in.

David Shaw, Open 
Seat, 1995-96, 
wood and holographic 
c. 35 x 32 x 39 in.

Albert Oehlen, 
A Prehistoric Hand, 
1996, mixed 
mediums on canvas, 
79 x 120 in.

Lucy Gunning, 
Climbing Around 
My Room, 1996, 
video still. From 

the artnet hit list

by John Mendelsohn

"Contemporary Navajo Weaving" and
"Woven by the Grandmothers" at
the National Museum of the 
American Indian, New York City

Oct. 6, 1996-Jan. 8, 1997

"Contemporary Navajo Weaving" features 38 

rugs and tapestries from Arizona and New 

Mexico. The artists who made them have 

subtly transformed traditional motifs into 

signs of personal expression, ranging from 

the hypnotically geometrical to the 

figurative. The show, organized by the 

Denver Museum, and its accompanying wall 

text allow the women who created this 

woven art to speak eloquently for 

themselves about the persistence of a 

living culture.

"Woven by the Grandmothers" displays a 

variety of 19th-century Navajo textiles 

from the National Museum of the American 

Indian's collection. A dazzling selection 

of wearable blankets reveal sacred geometry 

as an enveloping structure. Also on view 

are examples of these serapes, dresses, and 

chief blankets interpreted by contemporary 


Bill Komoski
at Feature

Oct. 18-Nov. 23, 1996

The most interesting paintings push 

critical language to its limits. Bill 

Komoski's paintings approach this limit 

partly because of their complexity and 

partly because of their strategy of 

deception, concealed under the guise of 

giddy display. The paintings' covert 

subject seems to be the contingent, 

shifting quality of experience, as 

expressed through competing visual systems, 

and their own apparent entropic decay. Each 

painting is a kind of scorched trompe 

l'oeil field of sprayed spectrum colors, 

lumpy surface protrusions and 

disintegrating skins of paint. Their vivid 

combination of virtuality, psychedelia, 

hysteria and wit make them perfect images 

for New York in 1996.

Harriet Korman 
at Lennon, Weinberg 

Oct. 15-Nov. 16, 1996

In these white, gray and black paintings a 

kind of rough geometry prevails. Somber and 

elegiac, they make order from the 

structuring of gestural brushstrokes. That 

order yields zones that hold all manner of 

visual energy: restive, flickering, coiled, 

sprung. Although often pictographic with a 

sign-like rhetoric, these paintings resist 

being read. They are instead abstract 

situations, dominated by acts of weaving, 

dividing and locking together. These large-

scale works don't want to be about anything 

else; rather they aspire to be raw and 

elegant figures of painterly speech.

Roland Flexner 
at Deven Golden Fine Art

Nov. 1-30, 1996

Roland Flexner's exhibition is a tri-

partite affair, with each of his very 

different modes of working serving a 

similar end--as a way to make an image that 

suggests both presence and absence. First 

are the monochrome diptych paintings, with 

one panel having the finely wrought image 

of a completely draped, medieval funerary 

figure. The other panel carries only a 

nearly matching expanse of color. Next are 

small graphite drawings from whose grainy 

surface emerge vanitas images of skulls, 

crystal spheres and classically derived 

portraits. Finally there is a series of 

cunning drawings created by the bursting of 

ink-laden soap bubbles. All together, this 

is an intriguing introduction to this 

French artist's work. 

Lisa Yuskavage 
at Boesky & Callery

Oct. 12-Nov. 16, 1996

If your female inner child were to grow 

swaybacked, with pneumatic breasts and a 

flying rump, and find herself in a lurid, 

oil-painted hell, then you might get an 

idea of the characters which populate these 

paintings. The figures are conceived as 

plaster figures (also on display) that make 

even more explicit their identity as 

caricature, with its exaggeration of the 

physical as a method of social satire. The 

figures bear a close family resemblance, 

like a new line of sad, sexy dolls. Painted 

with glossy cartoonish realism, this work's 

nasty humor sags under the weight of a 

particularly rancid form of narcissism.

David Shaw 
at Caren Golden Fine Art

Oct. 17-Nov. 16, 1996

David Shaw's work possesses a kind of pop 

spookiness that works. The effect may be 

ephemeral, but for a while at least there 

is the sensation of being caught in someone 

else's fugue state. Covered with 

holographic laminate, a bench, an 

Adirondack chair, and an upside down table 

are all silvery spectral reflection. On the 

walls are multiple photographs of a glowing 

light. In still another sculpture, a wax-

work baby bird struggles in a galvanized 

steel pail of simulated milk (made of 

resin). The freakout d'resistance is a 

standing sculptural figure, apparently all 

clothes and no flesh, made headless by the 

orange sweat shirt he is removing.

Albert Oehlen 
at Luhring Augustine

Oct. 19-Nov. 16, 1996

Albert Oehlen's new paintings at first seem 

like demonstrations of the inevitabilities 

that people keep telling us computers have 

created: the triumph of cyberspace, the 

spreading of human/machine interface, the 

proliferation of self-replicating systems 

and a revolution where no one gets hurt. 

There is an undeniable glamour in Oehlen's 

computer-derived, mechanically produced 

paintings. Lovely, manic effects layer over 

each other creating a kind of unbelievable, 

electronic space. Skeins of bit-mapped 

lines range across shifting candy-colored 

zones. Even the black-and-white images have 

a baroque intoxication. For all their 

currency, these paintings, in their 

picture-making and their hand-drawn 

graffiti lines, have a kind of built-in 

nostalgia: for the world of the future, for 

abstract painting and for what used to be 

called the real.

at Apex Art

Oct. 24-Nov. 23, 1996

The exhibition that Barry Schwabsky has 

curated at Apex Art is a rebus made from 

individual works, whose collective meaning 

is left for the viewer to puzzle out. It's 

not that there aren't plenty of clues along 

the way, discontinuous as they may be. 

Motifs of clothing and exposure, of color 

and of the erotic become a kind of medium 

of exchange between disparate objects. 

Throughout the exhibition are intimations 

of how art can speak in a secret language 

of affinity and immanence. Chief among 

these annunciations are Brenda Zlamany's 

painted portrait in profile, Ghada Amer's 

embroidered porn schematic and Lucy 

Gunning's video of a woman in a red dress 

literally climbing the walls.

JOHN MENDELSOHN is a New York artist who 

occasionally writes on art.