Critics’ Picks

Los Angeles

Logan Criley

As It Stands
2601 Pasadena Avenue
February 16–March 18, 2018

If juxtaposition is the quickest way to make new meaning and recombination the only way to tell new stories, Logan Criley’s paintings act accordingly: Photoshopping modernism and pop culture into surrealist tableaux. In Allegory of the Arts, 2017, mutant Beaux Arts figurations slink through a forest of ambiguous verticals. Here’s a polygon of crisp, Pollock splatter, and there’s the watery fill reminiscent of a Hockney pool. Lone Ranger (Shooting Gallery), 2017, depicts our hero’s coloring-book image with a Magritte pipe (or not-pipe) in his lips. Throughout this and the other five paintings stalk the hollow outlines of America’s national myths—in the one-liner Puritan Kiss, 2018, a pilgrim couple, staring thankfully, are mostly oblivious to the ominous gray nose and disembodied septum ring hovering over them. Elsewhere, two kids playing cowboy face down the titular Little Indian, 2017, whose fate seems sealed by the giant skeletal hand extending its glow-in-the-dark-green grip.

The show is called “One Thousand American Nights,” leaving little doubt as to whose stories these are: ours, as told to keep deferring our self-inflicted execution—in other words, to live. A jackrabbit in Lone Ranger is a paper target; bullet-hole decals cluster around its head. Shooting from the hip is American; faux bullet holes: choice Americana; the lush conflation of classical busts and physique-magazine models is American, too—absurdly, entrepreneurially so. And maybe, its Francophone theorists notwithstanding, postmodernism is also a story for an American night, and Criley would add his plots to those of Larry Rivers, David Salle, and Peter Saul . . . antiheroes all.