Critics’ Picks

Rudolf Stingel, Untitled (Franz West), 2010, ink, oil, enamel, paper, 30 x 22”.

Rudolf Stingel, Untitled (Franz West), 2010, ink, oil, enamel, paper, 30 x 22”.

New York

Rudolf Stingel

Gagosian | Park & 75
821 Park Avenue
October 27–December 23, 2015

Like a messianic magician unveiling his tricks, Rudolf Stingel unmasks shadowy illusions with pragmatic showmanship in works that appear to be one thing (spatial, metallic, liquid, carpet) but in fact are quite another (flat, matte, solid, paint). He even once produced a pamphlet of instructions for how to create his paintings: Here’s how it’s done, kids!

This latest show is made up of three large paintings and a smaller work on paper. The paintings, all from 2012, could have come straight from his how-to manual. Their monochromatic russet surfaces seem to glimmer in the light, the weave patterns of Persian rugs rising from rich, voluptuously colored surfaces. A photorealistic portrait of Stingel’s former collaborator Franz West, Untitled (Franz West), 2010, shows us only West’s eye, peering from behind a ferocious drag of onyx paint.

Stingel has displayed versions of West’s portrait in prior installations. West, who was himself a playful conjurer—creating works that looked purely decorative but in fact had more practical uses—looks at Stingel’s carpet paintings like a trickster godfather. With their tactile materiality and disorienting contrasts of rigorous facture with decorative allure, Stingel’s pictures invoke and simultaneously debunk the myth of the artist as alchemical grand master.