Critics’ Picks

Nate Lowman, Untitled, 2013–15, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Nate Lowman, Untitled, 2013–15, mixed media, dimensions variable.


Nate Lowman

Dallas Contemporary
161 Glass Street
April 9–August 23, 2015

When America sneezes, the world catches cold. In this show of five new bodies of painting and sculpture by Nate Lowman, that cliché of superpower economics summons the spirit of the American working class. For instance, front and center is Untitled, 2013–15, a colossal installation of a map of the United States with each state made out of a bit of soiled drop cloth wrapped around a shaped stretcher. Excepting Alaska and Hawaii, all are installed on a wall inclined away from the viewer. The best seats in the house for this work are atop a set of found bleachers that Lowman chose for their ubiquity in Texas.

Moving through, Lowman’s air-freshener paintings—canvases shaped after the rearview mirror’s best friend—playfully introduce modernism’s nonrectilinear substrates to the zingy forms of cartoons. Accompanying these are seven works with titles such as Mellow Yellow and Ghost of Indiana, both 2014, for which the artist stitched together the scraps of canvas leftover from the air-freshener works using unscented dental floss.

Eight paintings of Lowman’s studio’s ceiling flank the final gallery’s walls. Made by filling in areas traced from projected photos with dapples of latex, these works—all titled after his studio’s address—pair with the drop-cloth pieces to represent the upper and lower boundaries of an artist’s workplace. They radiate in the light cast by the central installation of makeshift lamps, Rave the Painforest Again, 2015, which fuses blue-collar materials such as construction boots filled with cement, Gatorade coolers, and coffee cans stuck with leprous Garbage Pail Kid decals with vintage lightbulbs containing hand-wound tungsten thread, illuminating once again the artist’s déclassé alchemy.