ROUND-UP JULY 3-9, 2017

This week, I wrote for Whitehot, Paste, and the Humble Arts Foundation's blog.
"Riot’s style is less notable for any idiosyncratic formal qualities than for the direct and unforgiving themes he conveys, as well as his creative approach to getting those messages across. Borrowing from visual lexicons as varied as surrealism, Pop Art, and comic books, Riot has used the aforementioned more traditional forms of media to his ends: topsy-turvy collage to poke fun at the typical American suburban dream in works like This Unvoyageable Gulf Obscure; juxtapositions of violent text with appealing appropriated imagery to call out governmental hypocrisy like XTRA JUDICIAL KILLING. Yet it is Riot’s approach to the literal material qualities of his works that sets him apart from other artists both of his time and of his political milieu. His Bubblegum series of 2013 used literal bubblegum balls in Chuck Close-esque mosaic portraits of prominent African-American baseball players, while his Los Angeles Dargers cycle of 2010 made tribute to the late outsider artist Henry Darger, combined classic baseball cards with a war-correspondent narrative, and added in the blog itself as a medium for telling this particular story."
"Yet on the whole, Chance Acquaintance never really gave itself a chance to be more than a lackluster display of some truly beautiful paintings paired with some less-notable sculpture, united not by a kind of posthumous encounter or deeply-considered delving into the artists’ philosophies, but by considerations that did not extend beyond the immediate surface level. The exhibition information page on the 21er Haus website states: “a similar usage of forms and sensitive use of diverse materials are common to both artists.” Frankly, on a critical or curatorial level, this sentence is so vague as to be functionally useless, since it could be used to describe pretty much any combination of any artists who worked in multiple media."
"How To Live Together appears to have been a staggering curatorial undertaking. The simple issue of deciding which artists get to have their audio components broadcast into the gallery space and which have to incorporate headphones into their works probably took hours of negotiation. At over thirty artists, it would be nearly impossible to review each artist’s contribution separately, so instead this review will consider several pieces that seem thematically central to the mission of the show. How to Live Together is hardly an abstract thought experiment; it has an overall message and mission to spread about coexistence—not only among humans, or among nations, but between humans and the earth itself."

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