New York

Julian Schnabel

Mary Boone Gallery | Chelsea

Further south, a proliferation of sites for study. Julian Schnabel’s paintings threaten to divide opinion among the researchers. Secular or religious objects?

A friend, Jonathan Crary, remarks that Julian Schnabel’s canvases look “excavated.” What better description of an artifict? There’s something fetishistic about Schnabel’s treatment of the canvas: he digs holes, covers his tracks with paint, the terrain looks as if a dog’s been hiding a bone. Anything could be buried beneath those liberally painted surfaces. Schnabel’s color, apropos of artificts, is a rusty, musty oil.

He betrays his love-hate relationship with painting. These are about pleasure tempered with pain: he violates the painting’s surface by gouging it, then he makes nice to it by painting over the wounds he’s inflicted. I’ve never seen such petulant, moody work. His paintings (this, incidentally, applies to a lot of recent

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