Critics’ Picks

View of “At The Gates of Eternal Market Success: The Suffering Of The Artist,” 2019.

Berlin

Mathieu Malouf

Lars Friedrich
Kantstrasse 154a
April 27–June 1, 2019

Mathieu Malouf presents seven new oil paintings in “At The Gates of Eternal Market Success: The Suffering Of The Artist,” five of which he has augmented with shitake mushrooms. Typical of Malouf’s practice, the canvases abound with appropriations of pop culture, social media, and art-historical references—for a start, his subjects’ afflicted, viscerally disturbing countenances draw comparison to those in Julian Schnabel’s plate paintings. Then there are his immediately recognizable antagonists, including Mr. Bean, Kermit and Miss Piggy, and Willem Dafoe, and art-historical motifs like Andromeda and Saint Sebastian. With titles like My Face When I Lend My Pen To Someone Immediately And They Don’t Give It Back Immediately and At the Gates Of Oil Painting (Suffering Of the Artist) (all works 2019), the uniting theme seems to be that of punishment, meted out by both divine and popular force.

Lot and His Daughters EXCEPT You Are Lot subjects the viewer to the role of the biblical father, his lascivious hands groping toward his daughters who are locked in a lustful embrace. The first-person videogame-like perspective seemingly condemns the audience to the act of committing incest themselves. (One wonders whether the seven paintings cite the seven deadly sins.) Pointing to the current cultural climate in which interpersonal interactions are often comparable to a product review on Yelp, Malouf satirizes the romantic male painter’s tragic fate: being delivered from the hallowed halls of glorified existential dread and landing at the pearly white gates of judgment.