Pilgrims, Feeling of a Feeling, and Art in the Age of the Internet
Chuck Webster: Pilgrims: Drawings 2017-2018—Steven Zevitas Gallery
The naivete in Chuck Webster’s work is misleading. What looks like pan watercolors and marker doodles on sheets of bond is shellac-based inks on vintage paper. The noodly line work comes from the hand of a National Academy affiliated fellow who went from a residency at the MacDowell Colony to another at the American Academy in Rome. Hilton Kramer’s remark about Philip Guston as a mandarin pretending to be a stumblebum comes to mind.
That said, Guston was on to something and so is Webster. Seussian landscapes featuring bizarre hill towns and citadels have newly emerged in his images. Mallets walk about them, their shafts bending and slanting to regard the ground, the sky, and each other.
These are studied attempts to deal with the figure-in-a-landscape aspect of historical Italian painting, even though the palette barely deviates from the color wheel. They would succeed better as oils, and larger. But their necessary component, serious unseriousness, is in place.
Show runs until 5.26. Steven Zevitas Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., #47, Boston. stevenzevitasgallery.com
Suara Welitoff: The Feeling of a Feeling—Anthony Greaney
Suara Welitoff has been capturing still movement throughout her career. Looking out the window during a train ride, flowers moving gently in the wind, the parallax view of word on page, but still more. Her lens cares about awareness. It captures a sumptuous moment and makes it slow enough and last long enough that we can finally see it for what it is.
Welitoff doesn’t slow time down and petrify it into a fearful monument. These moments are not thickened to sludge by their slowing. The images are a light and airy lo-fi album captured in one take and released on cassette only. There is a glitch or streak here and there created by the limits of technology, but they’re surprisingly readable considering their technical source. We drink in the hues of these images, bumping up only against time, the endlessness of the loop. Like ambient music, it is a mixture of sensations and formal ratios. With only four pieces in the show, it is intimate and invites focus and admiration.
Show runs until 6.23. Anthony Greaney, 438 Somerville Ave., Somerville. anthonygreaney.com
Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today—Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
This sprawling exhibition may be the most ambitious show that the ICA has ever attempted at its waterfront location. It also feels original in a way that the ICA does not often achieve, with less emphasis on oversold contemporary staples and more on fresher figures like Juliana Huxtable, Amalia Ulman, and aaajiao.
Enormous credit goes to curator Eva Respini for the fact that the show is orderly and not like, well, the internet. A thematic organization, with sections like “Hybrid Bodies” and “States of Surveillance,” coheres rooms of disparate art sensibly.
At the physical and philosophical heart of the show is Safe Conduct (2016) by Ed Atkins, a CGI animation on multiple screens in which a distressingly surreal and unflinchingly bloody choreography plays out at an airport security checkpoint. Like the logger atop the exhibition’s dedicated site that posts your physical location, it prompts surprise at what is possible and dread about what we’ve gotten ourselves into.
Show runs until 5.20. Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston. icaboston.org
These shorts are being simultaneously published at Delicious Line, deliciousline.org. Franklin Einspruch is the editor-in-chief of Delicious Line. John Pyper is a curator and writer who lives in Cambridge.