1980 – 1989 >

Nigel Van Wieck, 112 Greene Street Gallery, New York

1983

Until very recently, Van Wieck painted closely observed, delicately rendered images of contemporary people and places. Now the airy textures of these earlier works are gone, replaced by statuesque modeling and aggressive, vividly-colored patterns. Where once there were men and women of familiar urban kinds (portrait subjects who, it was clear, would have an informed appreciation of their images), Van Wieck now presents us with, for a few examples, a raging Samson, a falling Icarus, fleshy sirens, a heroic figure of the painter courting gigantic and voluptuous images of his muse, and a variety of unnamed colossi. Against roiling skies and the schematized glowing profiles of such Manhattan landmarks as the Empire State Building, dagger-wielding assailants bend over their victims in poses recalling Caravaggio’s most violent scenarios. The musculature of Van Wieck’s male figure suggests Michelangelo, but only after Blake got done with him.

—Carer Ratcliff

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