Critics’ Picks

Richard Bosman, Woman in the Rain, 2017, oil on canvas, 24 x 18".

New York

Richard Bosman

Nicelle Beauchene Gallery
327 Broome Street
March 21–April 21

Fear eats the soul, and anxiety keeps it up at night, producing a string of symptoms onto which delusions and fantasies may freely attach. Follow the stairs up to Richard Bosman’s exhibition “High Anxiety,” and find yourself inside the modern human, whose mind balances on the knife-edge of total collapse.

Bosman has been painting noirish scenes of violence, romance, and anomie for nearly forty years—this intimate survey features works from 1981 to 2019. His canvases, which pull from a range of sources, such as comic books and stock photography, feel operatic. Painted wet-on-wet, his stroke is smooth but quick, as if he’s grasping for something that’s about to escape. In all but one piece, the subject is alone. Yet Bosman’s masterful cinematic cropping always implies another presence, lurking, voyeuristic. Take Hotel, 2016, where we see what appears to be a woman lying in bed. Only her legs are visible. The sun is streaming into her room, and a book has fallen to her side. Is someone else there? Is she sleeping? Is she even breathing? Woman in the Rain, 2017, depicts the titular subject, hands on her head, during a torrential downpour, captured mid-scream. The picture seems to tremble. I found myself in a state of transference: Is she the one howling, or am I?

The people Bosman portrays are well dressed and polished, but don’t be fooled. There is an insidious tension that emanates from so many fastidiously groomed facades. All of his models are mere moments away from cracking. As we paddle through contemporary life, a psychic rupture seems reasonable, or even healthy—just don’t let yourself drift too far. Consider “High Anxiety” a gentle reminder of this.