New York

Irving Petlin

Odyssia Gallery

Irving Petlin’s large paintings at Odyssia are extremely disturbing. Their imagery investigates an awesome area, the invented animal. Petlin paints creatures impossible to read as lamb or fowl or man but suggestive of each. Going further in aberration than the conventional sphinx, centaur, or griffin, Petlin’s figures do not analyze neatly into, say, one kind of head on another kind of body. Feathers and limbs are familiar enough to make Petlin’s animals quite plausible, but their chilling if often whimsical mystery is that as animals they are totally new. They don’t just cross the line between the established species; they go on quietly to dismiss it. As flesh ourselves, we peer at these creatures, our metaphysical kin, and shudder. For through them we feel, as beyond our familiar and therefore rational anatomy a hint of that abyss, organic anarchy.

But such anarchy, in Petlin’s hands,

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