Monday, September 26, 2016

Slick and Dirty

Dan Schein
Where Do We Dump the Bodies
Through October 8

Installation View
Photo: Mike Weiss Gallery
Dan Schein’s heroically sized canvases feature hill people and swamp people set in
“abysmal landscapes” of sickly grey, green and brown paint. The (largely pinkish Caucasian) figures have the feeling of allegorical characters populating a terrible world of tremendous anxiety. Each painting seems to tell part of the story of a rural hell. What if Max Beckmann had grown up in the world on which Deliverance was based?

Upon entering the gallery I was greeted by Schein’s Seer of Things, 2016. A horrified elderly figure stares agape in profile off the edge of the picture plane, and by way of installation at the world which the rest of the paintings create inside of the gallery. The figure stands before a bleak mountain landscape topped by a mysterious tower, in the manner of a renaissance portrait gone psychologically awry.

Schein’s Raft, 2016 is the antithesis of Copley’s Watson and the Shark, 1778. It depicts two men on a small raft beset by a shark. One man is naked, exposed to the extreme elements, paddling furiously (but to where?). He is clearly terrified of the second man whose face is obscured by blood lust, about to bludgeon his shipmate to death with a club. There is nowhere to escape, yet the victim still paddles against his certain horrible demise.

Dan Schein’s “abysmal” wasteland is not so removed from parts of the country that we can separate ourselves entirely from it. It serves as a reminder that the apocalypse may already be here.

Alex Couwenberg
Left at 69’s
Through October 8

When I walked by Lyons Wier, upon first glance I thought they were having an exhibition of ribbon candy. But I was happy I stopped to look more closely at the work of Alex Couwenberg. In each painting, the artist seems to choose the aesthetics of vintage advertising and sports car detailing, using them to create architectural constructions intricate and interesting enough to get pleasantly lost. Couwenberg uses paint in a variety of manners, creating a varied surface texture as well as an authentic feeling sense of space. If there is a hint of science fiction in the look and feel of the paintings, it is a future of hope. This is particularly compelling for me, having recently enjoyed the Guggenheim’s Moholy-Nagy retrospective.

Alex Couwenberg
Disco Doll, 2016
Photo: Lyons Wier Gallery