Critics’ Picks

Nicole Eisenman, Le Kiss Deux, 2015, ink on paper, 50 1/2 x 45".


Nicole Eisenman

Galerie Barbara Weiss
Kohlfurter Strasse 41/43
September 8–October 31

The Kiss might represent one of those unattainable canonical ideals in art history, thanks to Rodin, but that doesn’t stop the likes of Nicole Eisenman from practicing her own French. (Sorry.) Although there are lots of works in her exhibition here, Le Kiss Deux (all works cited, 2015) is the indomitable highlight, showcasing Eisenman’s great agility with form. The two kissers in profile roughly form a heart, though in such a subtle way that you have to step back and look at it for a while before it comes to you. On the right, the kisser—the genders of both are indeterminate—has their eye closed, that is, a surgical slash standing in for a closed eye. Its lashes are the stitches, while an ink stain forms the eyelid, with a thin dash for a brow. The lover on the left, eye wide open, freakish, mouth deformed by the kiss, looks like one of Picasso’s gals. It’s a paean to lovers in love everywhere—regardless of whether we kiss with our eyes open or closed.

Elsewhere, the mean or indifferent glare of the goggled swimmer depicted in the drawing Old Face Young Body is full of grace, while Tea Party is an effective metaphorical piss-take on American politics in this no-longer-new century: A decrepit old white guy, together with the figure of Death, plants a US flag in the ground. And the tiny ink-on-paper work Cave Women gives us an instance of primitive painting at its finest, with a depiction of prehistoric woman that could have been taken straight off a wall in Lascaux.