Chicago

Nicholas Africano

Nancy Lurie Gallery

It would be easy to dismiss Nicholas Africano’s work as the soap opera of New Image painting. Because his figures act in dramas of friendship and the family, their situations may seem clichéd, their emotions exploited, their privacy infringed upon. However, soap opera gloats over pain and passion and delights in sleaziness. It stimulates voyeurism, draining everyday life of emotional depth while pretending to show crises. Soap opera fails to understand the significance of events or feelings and becomes pacifying and monotonous, but Africano plumbs the emotional intensity of crucial moments and banal rituals. Thus the paintings are exacting in his careful choice of situation portrayed and their demand that we identify with it and involve ourselves.

Certainly no soap opera would show two men, one in his underwear, in close emotional quarters. In The Scream, an installation of three paintings

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