Critics’ Picks

Untitled, 2004.

Untitled, 2004.

New York

Nils Karsten

Marvelli Gallery
526 West 26th Street Second Floor
March 12–April 17, 2004

For his first solo show, German-born Nils Karsten has created thirty figurative drawings, most executed on letter-size paper, that present an imaginative apprehension of adolescence. Karsten depicts this period of transformation as a time of becoming, defined by wishing and having, being and pretending, reality and insubstantiality—and by a child’s inability to distinguish among these. This contradictory dreamscape often appears as a flowing array of toys, animals, and weapons that are rendered in a mix of advanced draftsmanship and immature scribble; children who show signs of precocious puberty also exhibit a persuasive winsomeness. Denying the hints of predatory or exploitative sexuality that frequently predominate in such works, Karsten’s visual descriptions of this tender age are as sensitive and complex as his subjects.