April 8, 2009

Alexis Rockman at Nyehaus

Alexis Rockman has a show of new paintings at Nyehaus Gallery in New York.



Bruce Sterling wrote that:
“Though he is known for the searing clarity of his paintings, there are things below the waterline that he does not paint.Years ago, the alligator made up his mind about these central issues in his oeuvre. He decided, as an act of deliberate will, to maintain his amphibious ambiguity. An ambiguity about the boundary of man and animal.  An ambiguity about the borders of nature and artifice. Of art, of science…Human debris, sinking to the inky bottom of the alligator pond, a harvest too bitter even for the worms…Glassware, toxic vinyl, and shiny aluminum; a styrofoam soup in the Pacific, polar ice gone missing with no forwarding address, a food web blown to rotten lace, with gothic cobwebby holes of the vanished in the Sixth Great Extinction…A fantastic mulch of the natural and political. Yesterday’s brilliant inventions, more mortal even than their masters, become an ooze in the planet’s hidden waters, a toxic dust, the plaything of the whipping winds.Dripping mayhem covers the canvas: north, east, south and west, center, pole and periphery, forward and back in time. On any scale a monster might care to depict: glaciers, tornadoes, down the busily swarming bacteria, swapping their pirate cassettes of antibiotic resistance, like the music-tape pirates down at Saint Mark’s Place. New genes, plucked like snarled wire from the guts of a shattered piano, then kinked, knotted, plier-jammed into the tasty flesh of pigs, chickens and cows. Over-eager weeds break from concrete sidewalks bridging sullen, forgotten, still-dripping New York streams.

These paintings need to be seen in person;  their alternately pasty palette-smeared impasto and resin-wet gloss  surfaces mess with your eyeballs, vascillating between vivid, convincing representation and  distressed, formal, melting swaths of color.