McCarthy’s chimerical hybrid creations are sphinx-like. Mysterious and inscrutable, their individual characteristics undermine any symbolic reading. They are rooted in the real world, but also convey a complete sense of otherness.
The effect of scale, however, is to demand an attention the unglamorous, prosaic images might not otherwise command, to make moral, political claims for the importance of their subjects — in the senses both of the socially marginalized people and the issues raised.
In Luc Tuymans, you are never allowed to forget that the source is banal and secondary. Painterliness underscores alienation rather than ameliorating it.
Lewis’s unfailingly authoritative skill for painting real, rich and crystalline light, joined to his muscular composition, is the key to his power and success.
Given Huang’s indirectness, we experience the scene as if imbued with symbolist forms, which reveal their meaning only fleetingly. Yet the painting does not feel deliberately obscure, but rather poses the question, How much must be revealed before the images makes narrative sense?
Downes paintings reflect a unique combination of aggressive conception and passive elaboration. Fervent perceptions of space enliven their broad outlines; details follow, filling in the story of each site exactly “as is.” Colors add atmosphere and light.
Too often group exhibitions, especially those that mix together young artists and famous figures, fail to reveal elective affinities. This tight small show, however, revealed that these nine very different looking works of art all shared a genuine concern with successive approximation. And in doing that, it also displayed the totally unexpected relationship of these contemporary works of art with the traditions of old master painting.
Despite different approaches towards scale, texture and color, a common attitude pervades each artist’s style that isolates a cool tension between involvedness and restraint.
Francis Picabia and Dada in Paris by George Baker and I Am a Beautiful Monster: Poetry, Prose, and Provocation by Francis Picabia
Their biomorphic qualities are undermined by the fabrication process, but this increases the sense of otherness they generate. They suggest imaginary beings that are not the product of fantasy, but rather of imaginative speculation on the real but unknown.