Magazine article Artforum International

Charles Wiesen: Tough

Magazine article Artforum International

Charles Wiesen: Tough

Article excerpt

In what seems almost a Cook's tour of the art of the '60s and '70s, Charles Wiesen deploys an arsenal of familiar strategies in order both to pay honor to Minimalist efforts and to lay bare the movement's limitations. Like a treasonous heir, Wiesen turns the esthetic dictates of his predecessors in on themselves, an implosion that results in a curious affirmation of Minimalist practice. In View, 1996, five immaculately white objects hang across a gallery wall, casting discreet shadows and setting up quiet but intense pictorial interrelationships, its terse objecthood very reminiscent of Robert Ryman's esthetic. A second glance informs the viewer that these objects are actually five white window shades, with individual lengths adjustable by any viewer who cares to pull a cord. Barnett Newman's zip paintings get theirs in Here 2, 1996, where a 12-foot-long white wall is intersected by a narrow vertical black stripe about three-quarters of the way across the field. This stripe, which sets the proportions of the wall humming with harmonies of segmentation, turns out to be a floor-to-ceiling magnet, to which visitors have affixed office supplies like safety pins, paper clips, and scissors. Black and White with Gray Stain, 1995, is a black fiberboard triangular wedge inserted like a shelf flush with the corner of two walls, its design and articulation established by its spatial context. In his titling, Wiesen brings into play the white wall that is not literally part of the work but determines its shape, and also calls attention to the purposefully deflating stain left behind by what appears to have been a leaking can of gray paint. …

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