New York

Nathan Oliveira

Alan Gallery

Nathan Oliveira’s show at the Alan Gallery is a disappointment. Instead of the meaty paintings struggling to get around Giacometti’s figures in De Stael’s space seen before, the present works are mostly collage-painting with that “potent myth” kind of subject matter patented ages ago by Lebrun and Baskin. Titles such as The Magnificent; The Absurd underscore this embarrassing fumble into bathos. Several pictures deal much too freely with nudes toppling manneristically into space in poses of dejected anguish. A great deal of sloppy overpainting in matte and shiny black over obscured collage grounds tends to destroy the space in which the figures ought to exist. In Unsuspecting Owl the collage is handled in a faltering 1955 Marca-Relli style that fatally afflicts the fake Ernst image. Figures in the paintings really appear to be dependent on Beauchamp’s successful formula, but they are worked so aimlessly that any possibility of exposition is extinguished. On the basis of Oliveira’s past showings it is worth being very hard on this show. Right now his conflicts between image and matiere are disastrous. A series of brush and ink drawings of large female nudes are structurally sound enough to support simple and direct images. It is to be hoped that these represent steps toward a recovery of equilibrium whose loss is painful to note.

––Dennis Adrian