Critics’ Picks

View of  “Alan Uglow,” 2013.

View of “Alan Uglow,” 2013.

New York

Alan Uglow

David Zwirner | 519 West 19th Street
519 West 19th Street
February 19–March 23, 2013

Doubles and doubling abound in this thoughtfully installed exhibition curated by Bob Nickas, who also contributes a fine text for the exhibition catalogue. Take the paintings Standard #8 (Blue), 1994, and Portrait of a Standard (Blue), 2000: An oblique photographic image of a nearly identical painting from the “Standard” series has been silk-screened onto a canvas, becoming its portrait, and is here positioned on an adjacent wall. The effect is of an image caught in a mirror, situating the real and its photographic other as equal rather than the photographic other as a straightforward reproduction.

The positioning of the paintings—some hanging just a few inches from the ground, others resting on blocks of wood or freestanding—is key. This is Alan Uglow’s territory, where we stand opposite, move toward, or walk past his works, which brings the experience of painting closer to the body. Consider his fascination with soccer, which he references in some of his works. The two parts of the freestanding painting Torwand (Red) / Torwand (Blue), 2004, are identical except for the change in color—Torwand is German for goal wall, which these propped up pieces replicate—and face each other in the main gallery space. Again there is doubling—once because of the two pieces in relation to each other and again in the two holes situated diagonally, one above the other. With this emphatic counterpoint, the structure of the goal wall, sourced from a competitive game, now becomes an object of active visual exchange.

Uglow wants us in the here and now: The ordinary world, including our movement in it, is abundantly and subtly present. A series of photographs, “Moth 1–3,” 2009, are hung on a wall to face the visitor on leaving the gallery. They present a dead moth that had come finally to rest on an Uglow painting, and as vanitas, act as a reminder of our impending mortality.