As a painter, Courbet ravishes a nude in the same manner as he would a tree or a trout: for the visual evidence of its expressive physicality.
For an abstract painter of her generation, the older distinctions between figurative and abstract art, or between politically critical art and the consumer products of mass culture cease to have much importance. Perhaps that is why her essentially cheerful art shows no signs of th angst which inspired so many of the pioneering Abstract Expressionists.
Like Henry Darger, Ku refers to a mindset populated by children who undermine confidence in the world as it is. She presents disturbing tableaux, meditations on transgressions that make no sense, that seem to come out of nowhere.
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.