Critics’ Picks

Dani Leder, Hedonistic Sustainability, 2018, oil, acrylic, and aluminum on canvas, 30 x 40".

Dani Leder, Hedonistic Sustainability, 2018, oil, acrylic, and aluminum on canvas, 30 x 40".

New York

Dani Leder

368 Broadway #511
December 1, 2018–January 6, 2019

Dani Leder’s figurative mixed-media paintings read like scenes of abject theater. In Hedonistic Sustainability (all works 2018), for instance, a projection screen casts its sickly green glow over the disinterested, young, hipper-than-thou dramatis personae gathered in a room. A guy in a hoodie locks lips with his beer bottle and gazes into nowhere, while two egg-like, ambiguously human onlookers sulk in a corner. Leder heat-maps small details of the mise-en-scène in conflagrant red (an aglet, a painted fingernail, a lit cigarette), dropping clues to some vague plot.

On an adjacent wall is Nivea, which depicts, among other things, a book splayed face-down on a bed, a bottle of lotion suggestively labeled “XXX,” and a flaccid, polyester-looking lanyard draped on a windowsill. A scrawled aluminum Post-it note is adhered to the surface of the painting, atop a rendering of a drawn roller shade. Leder treats her subjects, ciphers all, with an extraordinarily light touch. The artist’s watery facture imbues each canvas with a strange, half-remembered quality.

Painted-over aluminum is applied to most of the works, evoking a kind of pictorial prosthesis. The metal––sharp, rigid, and subtly dimensional––foils the otherwise flatly rendered tableaux. A metallic grid scores the background of Infinity Pattern, in which we see a close-up of two mucus-yellow interlocutors passive-aggressively pushing past each other. Also included in the show is “5 A Day,” a series of three charcoal-and-acrylic drawings in which a baby-faced personage (or wide-eyed suckling pig) appears in profile. In each picture, its mouth is stuffed with a different piece of produce: a celery stick, a carrot, and an apple. The cartoonish vignettes are both childlike and chilling. In Leder’s fictive universe, there are no stand-up characters and certainly no satisfying endings.