Out and About with artcritical
Mark Greenwold: Murdering the World, Paintings and Drawing 2007-2013 at Sperone Westwater
Photographs by Robin Siegel, Installation shots by Allyson Shea, Report by David Cohen
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A Mark Greenwold show is hardly less rare than a new painting from this OCD master of minutiae: to give the fellow a normal-sized show you pretty much need to stage a mini-survey. That’s what his new dealers, Sperone Westwater, have done for the veteran fantasy realist on the third floor of their Norman Foster-designed railroad gallery on the Bowery, in a show that takes its title from a line of Stanley Cavell’s hand-inscribed at its entrance: “The cause of tragedy is that we would rather murder the world than permit it to expose us to change.”
His admirers were out in force the Friday night of Frieze weekend, including a number of sitters in his bizarre psycho-dramas. Amongst the latter category were Chuck Close and James Siena who besides their visages and birthday suits also contribute to Greenwold’s visual vocabulary in the form of their trademark pictorial marks – Close’s lozenges, Siena’s algorithmic zags – that the artist uses as kind of thought bubbles hovering over his dramatis personae’s heads.
In his New York Sun review of Greenwold’s last survey, at DC Moore Gallery in the Fall of 2007, artcritical editor David Cohen wrote in terms that still apply that “Mr. Greenwold revels in capturing each hair on a dog, or each thread in a carpet, with a nutty regard for exactitude
Like psychoanalysis, around which these strange dramas revolve, Mr. Greenwold’s painting mode supposes that no detail is to be ignored and that time is no object. Psychoanalysis is the key — if not to decoding these bizarre, narcissistic soul dramas, then at least to understanding the strange genre in which they occur. For Mr. Greenwold’s pictures occupy an ambiguous space nestled between allegory and narrative. Each of the figures feels highly isolated, and yet each one plays a function in relation to the action unfolding around them all.
On view at 257 Bowery between Houston and Stanton streets, New York City, 212.999.7337 through June 28, 2013print