Critics’ Picks

Caitlin Keogh, The Writer, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 104 x 78".

Caitlin Keogh, The Writer, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 104 x 78".

New York

Caitlin Keogh

Mary Boone Gallery | Uptown
745 Fifth Avenue
March 5–April 25, 2015

Oh, how we long to be seduced. Imagine that quickening of the pulse when Christian Dior unveiled his New Look in 1947, after all the misery and asceticism of the World War II years—that fulsome twenty yards of fabric draped over a revamped Edwardian silhouette, returning to the world what Parisian fashion had always done best: aristocratic hauteur alloyed with sumptuous glamour.

Faggy, filigreed, fabulously flat—Caitlin Keogh’s scintillating crop of nouveau paintings are a welcome respite from all the slopped-out, dudely, abstractionist facture littering Chelsea and far beyond. Keogh’s in possession of a razor-sharp style and illustrative swagger that looks back to the greatest: thirties fashion magazines, Jean Giraud, 1970s glam rock, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Steve Strange, all of which aggregates into an unrepentant Surrealism that’s more Gene Moore than Salvador Dali could ever have hoped to be.

And so much pink! Plush, powdered, pussy pink—from the vulvar split between the shoulders of the multiply perforated female form in The Illustrator (all works 2014), to the anthropomorphized ribbon about to quiescently behand itself with a pair of enormous shears in The Modiste, to the queerly de-nippled odalisque-like Eve, delivering the Serpent, in The Writer. It’s a vision of “sinister femininity” (to quote the show’s curator, Piper Marshall) that Keogh has appropriated from historically misogynistic sources and made entirely her own, doing as the quaintrelle, or female dandy, should: destabilizing paint into maquillage, enhancing veneer into armor.

And honestly, it can’t be overstated: There’s nothing like a gracefully manicured edge to cut through all the shit.