Critics’ Picks

Revolutionary War Tent, 2004.

Revolutionary War Tent, 2004.

New York

Richard Bosman

Elizabeth Harris Gallery
529 West 20th Street 6E
October 14–November 13, 2004

Richard Bosman has been exhibiting since 1980, but his paintings look like the work of a much younger man. This isn't to say they're not “mature,” but his subjects are the kind of earnest, hokey Americana that Gen Y artists tend to celebrate. The sentiments are similar, too. Despite their over-the-top embrace of American history, manifested as kitsch, his paintings are almost completely devoid of apparent irony. Melville's Desk (all works 2004) hangs alongside an old-timey roadside furniture stand, a horror-vacui gift shop full of collectibles, and the exterior of an anonymous Lumberman's Museum. The persistence of country crafts (Bosman lives in upstate New York) is reflected in his wet-on-wet brushwork, which initially gives his work the look of something you'd expect from an extraordinarily talented child, or an outsider artist. In a way, actually, he is an outsider artist. A Dutch-Australian born in India, he avoids the big signifiers of contemporary American culture and heads instead straight to this country's less glamorous heart, to the Shakers and Civil War reenactors and the Fort at Ticonderoga, where the humble fires of American history are stoked.