Critics’ Picks

Champion, 2005.

New York

Charlie White

Andrea Rosen Gallery
525 West 24th Street
January 14–February 18

“Everything Is American,” the title of Los Angeles artist Charlie White’s latest solo show, could be either a bland assertion of US imperialism or an advertising slogan for a new suburban superstore. Or both. The show, on view concurrently at this gallery and at f a projects in London, offers a terse, seven-photo outline of some of the mythical and bathetic fragments that float unmoored in the nether regions of the American mindscape. While a few of these portraits are loosely based on historic events (the Tate-LaBianca trial, the dramatic fall of 1996 Olympic gold gymnast Kerri Strug), unlike White’s prior work, there’s no easy pattern or gimmick to tie the images together; the only unifying theme appears to be a certain dark (and more-or-less submerged) eroticism. In the portraits Granddaughter and Champion (all works 2005), small details like grubby fingernails and cheap sheets undermine the authority of two otherwise self-possessed subjects. For the most part, the characters in the other pictures appear envious, insecure, or, like the mysterious figure Jody, eerily vulnerable yet defiant. White has a zeal for exacting precise expressions from his models, to the point of photographing the actors in a scene multiple times and then digitally pasting together the most successful results. Whatever his technique, the artist offers luscious and compelling snapshots of a uniquely American psychology.