Critics’ Picks

Su Casa Mi Casa, 2007, oil on stone dust on panel, 72 x 48".

Su Casa Mi Casa, 2007, oil on stone dust on panel, 72 x 48".

New York

Quentin Curry

Stellan Holm Gallery
60 East 92nd Street
September 14–October 27, 2007

Using a unique process in which successive layers of pigment are leached through fabrics onto his canvases, Quentin Curry has created a series of paintings that depict explosive illumination and postexplosion detritus. A tone of nihilistic celebration pervades the works: Mexican-style skulls conjure Dia de los Muertos revelries, what seem like searchlights suggest a nighttime aerial raid, and a tropical sunset glimpsed through sliding doors evokes the living-room view of a Florida retiree in his last years. The best pieces in the show have in common Curry’s treatment of light, which he by turns renders realistically and—with subtly implausible color choices—twists toward the surreal. As with Su Casa Mi Casa, 2007, and Come Back Soon, 2007, the paintings’ compositions, often featuring a single-point perspective, remain thoughtful without staggering under the weight of complexity. Less successful on their own, Curry’s sculptures are primarily kitschy, ranging from a deer bearing a table on its back to a tangle of Christmas lights. Mix in the swooning exuberance of the paintings, though, and the show becomes rich with elements of both earnestness and devil-may-care humor. Indeed, in the larger context of the show, it is perhaps Curry’s less-polished moments—his leanings toward folk art and kitsch—that best evoke the emotional immediacy and simplicity that mark our real-life experience of his subject: light in its shortest-lived moments, and the desolation that ensues.