Magazine article Artforum International

"Spellbound"

Magazine article Artforum International

"Spellbound"

Article excerpt

KARYN LOVEGROVE GALLERY

Perhaps as a result of having grown up watching Bewitched as often as possible, I'm fascinated by TV magic, from the sweet but toothless moral repetitions of Sabrina the Teenage Witch to the new-age banalities and annoying sisters of Charmed. I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer weekly with friends, taking great pleasure in Willow's learning the intricacies of casting a spell (her confidence in the world, her belief in herself, are in sympathetic relation to the success and power of her incantations). Like Rimbaud, part of writer-producer Joss Whedon's genius has been to find, within teen angst and anomie, metaphors monstrous, demonic, and bewitching. Why is there such an abundance of spells and sorcery on the airwaves right now? As with Bewitched, the taint of difference, of otherness, in characters who manifest supernatural powers remains. Is all this magic the collective wish for something that, outside law or reason, unmasks normality?

Given my predilection for almost any kind of abracadabra, was happy to encounter "Spellbound"--an exhibition of works on paper from artists as unlike as Louise Bourgeois, Lisa Yuskavage, and Thomas Schutte that "record this beguiling state." Of course, enchantment never falls far from the twee, but for the most part the work on view avoided that danger. The enchantments to be found in this show were the results of messing with the quotidian and disarticulating cliches, rather than waxing poetic about the bliss of the everyday. However much the artists here might truck with nostalgia or fantasy--reveries of the perfect world of childhood, which, excuse me, never existed--most of them seem to realize that when opening any magic box, things more menacing are often unloosed with daydreams. Ellen Berkenblit's drawings of a protuberantly nosed woman and the children's-book figures of Vivienne Shark Le Witt never really surpass illustration. More on target were Ricky Swallow's beguiling watercolors of a suited chim p dancing and reading, conveying representation's almost magic ability to fool and charm.

With its "Peaceful Pink" walls--a pink making everything and everyone glow--and fresh white floors, "Spellbound" was a virtual bouquet for Karen Kilimnik, whose best pieces here, like Nutcracker Snowflake II, 1997, in which a lone ballerina deeply curtsies, display the gush and genuine weirdness of her work. …

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