Alex Jovanovich

  • Namio Harukawa, Work No. 278, date unknown, graphite and colored pencil on paper, 10 7⁄8 × 7 7⁄8".

    Namio Harukawa

    There she is: a radiant, platinum-blonde giantess sitting at the bar in a leopard-print bustier with matching evening gloves and long kinky boots. Though we see her from behind, her face is turned toward us, with lips shellacked a poisonous candy-apple red and eyebrows shaped into villainous ice-queen perfection. This curvaceous femme fatale takes up extra space without a whiff of apology; each one of her massive legs rests upon its own plush stool like a plump aristocratic pet. Her enormous bare ass—a luminous thing rendered with aching precision in graphite and colored pencil—is a character

  • Iiu Susiraja, Broom, 2010, C-print, dimensions variable. From the series “Good Behavior,” 2008–10.

    OPENINGS: IIU SUSIRAJA

    BEING ROUGHLY 320 POUNDS and a little less than six feet tall, with a fifty-inch waist, I am usually the fattest person in any room. With those stats, how could I not be? In fact, because of my size, much of my existence is a numbers game: I have type 2 diabetes, so I need to take two thousand milligrams of Metformin every day, in addition to ten milligrams of Jardiance, in order to try to keep my A1C levels hovering around 7 percent or less. My other daily medications include ten milligrams of Rosuvastatin for high cholesterol and 150 milligrams of the antidepressant Sertraline; the dosage was

  • John Currin, Mantis, 2020, oil on canvas, 74 × 39".

    John Currin

    Many right-wingers in the United States see Donald Trump as towering, blond, and strong: a homegrown model of the Aryan ideal. In reality, he’s just a little over six feet tall, and the flaxen color of his starchy locks, at least these days, is almost certainly due to something cheap and bottled. “Make America Great Again,” a slogan that’s supposed to evoke visions of a white, postwar, and prosperous US, is corrosive propaganda, a strain of poisonous nostalgia that grows out of troubled times. Trump is a travesty of power and virility, a deep-discount Übermensch who rose from the most abysmal

  • Thomas Nozkowski, Untitled (9-58), 2017, oil on linen, 22 × 28".

    Thomas Nozkowski

    The English polymath John Dee—mystic, renowned mathematician, and trusted adviser to Queen Elizabeth I, among other things—talked to the angels. Dee claimed they introduced him to an ancient tongue spoken by divinities . . . even God himself. The letterforms of this language, Enochian, are voluptuous, like a more sensuous version of the uppercase Greek alphabet. Occult scholars have for centuries failed to completely crack the code behind the celestial messages Dee recorded in his journals. I regard abstract painter Thomas Nozkowski (1944–2019) as a breed of seer similar to Dee. The artist was

  • Agatha Wojciechowsky, Untitled, 1970, pastel on paper, 13 1⁄2 × 13".

    Agatha Wojciechowsky

    Death is met by sweetness and light in the ebullient, ethereal work of Agatha Wojciechowsky (1896–1986), a renowned spirit medium, teacher, artist, and healer whose drawings, paintings, and sundry personal effects were on display here in a modest but moving presentation titled “Spirits Among Us.”

    Wojciechowsky (née Wehner) was born in Steinach, Germany, came to the United States in 1923, started a family while living in New Jersey, and eventually settled in New York City with her husband, Leo, and two children, Ingeborg and William Roland. She was keenly aware of her preternatural gifts for a

  • View of “Joseph Holtzman,” 2020. From left: Artist Hibernating, 2019; Athena by the Sea, a Nocturne, 2020.

    Joseph Holtzman

    The sumptuous Park Avenue duplex of coller des bijoux czar Kenneth Jay Lane; Dawnridge, the byzantine Beverly Hills stronghold built by designer and artist Tony Duquette and his wife, Elizabeth Johnstone; Neuschwanstein Castle, King Ludwig II of Bavaria’s fairy-tale palace: These haute abodes are examples of the most exquisite and extreme queer taste. Profane notions regarding old-school faggery, including theatricality, opulence, and camp are in fact among the most sacred, vaporizing all pretenses to normativity in favor of perversity, ostentation, and rabid originality. Joseph Holtzman—founder

  • William Scott, Untitled, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 60 × 48".

    William Scott

    A segment from a 1972 episode of Sesame Street features a very youthful Jesse Jackson engaging in a call-and-response with a racially diverse group of kids. Jackson recites a piece based on a poem by William Holmes Borders Sr. titled “I Am—Somebody,” a stirring anthem of Black pride that Borders, a civil rights activist and Baptist minister from Georgia, famously read in 1943 for a radio broadcast. Jackson’s choir repeats after him with gusto: “I may be poor, but I am—somebody. . . . I may be small, but I am—somebody. . . . My clothes are different, my face is different, my hair is different,

  • Clarity Haynes, Grace, 2019, oil on linen, 62 × 62".

    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

  • Chason Matthams, Rainbow Balloon 3 (red) with Thomas Moran’s “Rainbow over the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone”, 2018, acrylic on linen over panel, 16 × 20".

    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

  • Peter Saul, Bush at Abu Ghraib, 2006, acrylic on canvas, 78 x 90".
    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, Blueboy (Roger), 2018, watercolor woodcut transfer on paper, 52 × 74 3⁄4".

    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, Love on the Beach, 2019, oil and acrylic on canvas, 48 × 48".

    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