PRINT April 2009


RICHARD ALDRICH hates being called ironic or a slacker. The fact that critics have lately called him both, without any air of opprobrium, may say more about the critical winds encircling recent abstract painting than it does about his disparate and disarming canvases—most “nonobjective” in the old-fashioned sense, some scrawled with graffiti or collaged with media scavengings, a few overtly depictive. Such modest multifariousness invites us to imagine that Aldrich is involved in a kind of authorial gamesmanship, and it is comforting to read jokey gestures like gluing almonds to a painting or turning a canvas into a face as cunning ploys. He can’t really be serious or, worse, trying too hard. Irony and insouciance are easy critical hedges against charges of unfashionable earnestness or latter-day formal fiddling. Such poses make paintings (or their beholders) seem canny or “relevant,” as

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