Los Angeles

Nicholas Africano

Asher/Faure Gallery

If Seurat’s dictum that painting is “the art of hollowing out a surface” were true, then Nicholas Africano’s work wouldn’t qualify. Africano paints figures in literal bas-relief, awkward, lumpish characters built up of painted wax on a monochromatic field. The High Wire, a group of four new paintings that are almost identical in composition, presents a figure in mid-stride, balancing precariously on a thin tightrope as he journeys across the gray-blue canvas.

Africano was at one time a writer of short, nondiscursive prose that attempted to create direct, immediate images with words. Slowly, he began to substitute small drawings for some of the words. Now those drawings have become large-scale paintings with a few words pushed out onto the gallery wall: “He’s so brave. When you’re on the wire it’s do or die. Someday, of course, he’ll break his neck.” The legend and the image are blatantly

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