The casual exhibition title “Alex Kanevsky: Some Paintings In No Particular Style” leaves many questions to be answered about the large assortment of work. Upon entering, it is obvious that style is actually the link that holds this large chain of work together. Executed and dissected with quick strokes of pastel and earth tones, Kanevsky’s adept and painterly touch flutters about narrow cinematic interior spaces, foresty green landscapes, portraits, a large equestrian horse and even a military dinner scene that nods heavily to Adrian Ghenie – minus a few pounds of impasto. The varying subject matter makes it hard to grasp how all these paintings relate outside of style at all and if the offering “Some Paintings In No Particular Style” is enough to adequately fill the gaps.
Kanevsky’s usual solemn sensibility for portraiture and figures encased in domesticity is on view in the softly worked paintings “J.F.H with Nature Blanket”, “Walk In Closet”, and “Lulu in Madrid (Twice).” However, the wit, humor, and dreamy imagery of other work obscures their sincerity. In “Battle of San Ramano,” a reference to Paolo Uccello, Kanevsky recreates the strangely staged Renaissance battle painting. This time though, the battle is of a sun drenched, martial arts-clad group of middle aged men wielding what look like wooden swords. The effect is odd and begs a grin. Similarly, “M.S.S. with Fish” displays a nude woman laying on her stomach, possibly asleep, and a limp fish resting on her back. At first, the bizarre scene conjures up Michael Borremans, but the beachy palette resigns the painting to a possible prank on the dozing woman. In another turn, “Models Painting Themselves” shows an ambiguous grey blue atmosphere where a nude woman, indeed paints on the body of another nude female model. Is this a tongue and cheek metanarrative, or something deeper?
A final painting of note is “Flying Tangerine.” Two vanilla pink hands reach up against icy blue walls towards a hovering tangerine disc. It is a painting of someone playing catch in solitude, unaware or unconcerned that anyone else may be present. The moment is vague and begs the question of which direction the tangerine is going, similar to the general feeling of “Some Paintings In No Particular Style.” All things considered, it is hard to know what to make of the large grouping of work on view at Hollis Taggart, or if a greater conclusion is supposed to be made at all. There are moments in the show that display great painterly subtlety and a masterful control of texture and movement. As a whole though, the exhibition concludes as uncertainly as tossing a tangerine in the air.
Elliot Purse b.1989 Originally from just outside Chicago, Elliot is an Artist and Writer currently residing in Bushwick, Brooklyn.