Frieze: De Kooning, De Kooning, De Kooning...

By Christine Antaya

A ridiculous clown-like figure with a cartoonishly outsized paintbrush chants ‘De Kooning, De Kooning, De Kooning…’ as he presses a tube of paint larger than his own body up against a canvas. Continuing his mantra, he spins around the studio, presumably in search of divine inspiration. This refrain – in Paul McCarthy’s 1995 video Painter – lent its name to a group exhibition at David Risley Gallery curated by one of last year’s Turner Prize nominees, Dexter Dalwood. In an examination of the current state of expressionist painting, Dalwood assembled recent works by six artists – from the UK, Denmark, Uruguay and the Faroe Islands – alongside McCarthy’s satirical piece.


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The works included Sofie Bird Møller’s thick smears of paint on a page of a fashion magazine editorial (Untitled, 2010) and Nathan Barlex’s beeswax-and-resin-covered canvas, Tissue Expander (2010). The latter’s works are dense and overpowering: glossy layers of paint serve to conjure a putrid mass, potentially emanating from bodily tissue. Similarly saturated, Giving up the Ghost (2010), Vanessa Mitter’s heavily dripping portrait of a girl, brings to mind the work of CoBrA artists with their impasto and flooded surfaces. In contrast, Jill Mulleady, Stuart Cumberland and Rannva Kunoy offer up lighter palettes. The brushstrokes in Mulleady’s Door to the Ocean (2010) somehow brought to mind De Kooning – not necessarily Willem, but Elaine – while the smudged lettering in Kunoy’s Poe-Naw-Grah-Fee (2010) hints at narrative rather than a purity of medium.

April 1, 2011