Alex Jovanovich

  • Clarity Haynes

    A pair of hairy, pendulous tits and a huge belly marred by stretch marks, drooping skin, fresh bruises, and old wounds: This is a general yet reasonably accurate description of an obese, middle-aged physique—one that belongs to me, a gay man.

    I see myself reflected in the luminous portraits of nonbinary, trans, and female torsos—fat, scarred, imperfect—by Clarity Haynes. But in her pictures, I don’t find shame or self-loathing—feelings I imagine those with nonnormative bodies, like mine, must struggle with. Obviously, I have no idea what the artist’s models might think about themselves, or how

  • PORTFOLIO: CHASON MATTHAMS

    BRAD PITT’S NOSE IS WEIRD. Its bulbous tip seems vaguely clitoral in Chason Matthams’s 2011 oil painting of the star. It also reminds me of a Cézanne apple, trying to unfurl itself in every direction against its two-dimensional prison. Pitt’s chapped, full lips are tightly pursed, and his sallow, putty-like face is veiled in a thin layer of grease. His irises are a cloudy blue. And it appears as though someone has dislocated his left eye by digging their grimy thumb into the squishy area beneath it, just above the zygomatic bone, forcing the orb to sink deeper into its socket. Pitt’s not exactly

  • interviews February 11, 2020

    Peter Saul

    Peter Saul remembers a radio broadcast about the electrocution of Ethel Rosenberg at New York’s Sing Sing Correctional Facility in 1953—in particular, the moment when a horrified announcer described her hair going up in flames. There’s a gruesome, orange-skinned rendering of her, strapped to an acid-green version of Old Sparky, in “Peter Saul: Crime and Punishment,” a six-decade survey that features more than sixty of the artist’s dark, dyspeptic, and ruefully funny paintings, which take on American history, stupidity, and culture. The show, organized by Massimiliano Gioni and Gary Carrion-Murayari

  • Monica Majoli

    No matter the medium, Monica Majoli’s portrayals of men are heavy as hell—emotionally, conceptually—while, oddly, appearing utterly weightless, even angelic. In her crepuscular and modestly sized oil paintings from the 1990s, we see her subjects fuck, suck, choke, and lick—queer and carnal creatures who enjoy one another’s bodies, be they limp with pain or taut from ecstasy. In a later series, rendered in luminous watercolor and gouache, they are clad in rubber from head to toe and placed in bucolic settings. Sometimes they are lashed to a tree, or suspended high in the air from an elaborate

  • Raynes E. Birkbeck

    General George S. Patton was famous for many things, including his vicious, ugly temper and a taste for bespoke pistols with ivory handles, made by Smith & Wesson. In a painting by the self-taught artist Raynes E. Birkbeck—which appeared in “Scenes on the Move,” his solo show at the tiny Chinatown gallery Situations—the military hothead admittedly looks kinda hot, portrayed as a beefy, hirsute daddy who sports kneepads, tight shorts, wrist cuffs, and a Technicolor harness with a golden breastplate. Birkbeck, similarly attired, stands next to Patton. The artist’s engorged pink nipples contrast

  • picks July 22, 2019

    Candy Jernigan

    There’s always a lot of junk in galleries. But here, the garbage is pure gold.

    The late and forever great Candy Jernigan (1952–1991) had a thing for the discarded and defiled, be it pop-tops, moist cigar butts, or a rat’s carcass. The artist, who lived in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, sourced the materials for her collages and drawings from the filthy, crime-addled streets right outside her studio door. Jernigan’s Found Dope, 1986, a taxonomic display of drug paraphernalia including residue-y dime bags and crack vials, was presented by the artist at a neighborhood meeting as proof of the sordid

  • PORTFOLIO: PHILIP VAN AVER

    OSCAR WILDE famously lamented that the fabulousness of his blue china was difficult “to live up to.” Looking at Philip Van Aver’s exquisite gouache-and-ink paintings—tiny paper masterpieces no bigger than a valentine, yet filled with more love hours than can ever be repaid—I understand this failure of spirit in the presence of beauty. His bucolic scenes of shapely boys and Dionysian he-creatures frolicking, fighting, or posing in realms of Pre-Raphaelite splendor would have likely made Wilde swoon (and John Ruskin a bit squeamish).

    I am loath to call Van Aver’s paintings and drawings miniatures

  • Judy Fox

    Crepuscular, cancerous, unclean: Judy Fox’s eerie, life-size effigy of a dead Snow White, 2007, is nothing like Disney’s apple-cheeked version of the tortured young blueblood. Fox’s is grim—authentically Grimm—decked out in long, weedy braids and lying nude atop her glass coffin, surrounded not by seven mournful dwarves but by queasy, gonadal sculptures with tits for legs, physical manifestations of Christianity’s capital sins. Many moons ago, when I first encountered this tableau at New York’s P.P.O.W gallery, I was overtaken by the exquisiteness of Fox’s installation. Yet the artist’s black

  • “CAMP: NOTES ON FASHION”

    Curated by Andrew Bolton

    Dandiacal is such a marvelous word—it sounds like a portmanteau of dandy and maniacal. Andrew Bolton uses it to describe a frock coat designed by Alessandro Michele for Gucci that, for this exhibition, will be installed next to a regal full-length portrait of Oscar Wilde (painted by Robert Pennington ca. 1884) wearing a similar item of clothing. Though most people think of camp as a mincing pink beast in marabou feathers, I like to imagine it as a glittering black widow with diamond fangs, a supple creature that threatens to fatally upend the straight and self-serious

  • “QUEER ABSTRACTION”

    Curated by Jared Ledesma

    Polari, a secret tongue that goes back centuries, is a car crash of languages (such as Italian, Yiddish, Romani, and back slang) that was once spoken by carnies, criminals, and gay men, mostly in the United Kingdom, to evade the keen ears of the law and “respectable” society. The fifteen LGBTQ+ artists in this show use abstraction as a kind of visual Polari to discuss queer eroticism and the more fluid, fabulous strains of sexual identity. Featured works will include Tom Burr’s cruisy, site-specific take on Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, 1981; Sheila Pepe’s sensual yet

  • Mel Odom

    “An addict of beauty” is what the novelist Edmund White dubbed Mel Odom during a public conversation only days after the artist’s solo exhibition, aptly titled “Gorgeous,” opened. White would know, because he’s an expert on the subject. And so is Odom, a maker of ethereal images that depict splendidly chiseled men and glamorous women who appear as though they’ve been tenderly reinforced with light. Thirty-five of his modestly sized drawings (the largest of which are only fourteen inches high), produced between 1975 and 2018, made up this show.

    Odom came to fame in the 1970s as a commercial

  • interviews March 18, 2019

    Ruben and Isabel Toledo

    Longtime couturier Isabel Toledo, who had the distinct honor of designing Michelle Obama’s 2009 inauguration outfit, and her husband, the illustrator, artist, and stage designer Ruben Toledo, have been collaborators for nearly forty years. The pair, based in Manhattan, have embarked on another singular adventure: a show commissioned by the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) for which the Toledos have created a new body of work that responds to the museum’s vast and extraordinary collection—which the duo talks about below. “Labor of Love” is on view through July 17, 2019.

    A COUPLE OF YEARS AGOVogue