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.