New York

Richard Bosman

Brooke Alexander

Nothing could look more different from the refinements of these two groups of photographs than the paintings of RICHARD BOSMAN. Sloppy and garish with color that obviously owes a lot to the quality of electric light in the wee small hours, Bosman’s paintings are aggressively rude. They are also very funny—and totally pessimistic.

Bosman’s paintings have the look of great passion. The paint swirls across the canvas, rising to thick, impastoed peaks at appropriate moments. And the pictures that this paint describes are as violent as the artist’s handling: shipwrecks, murders, suicides. But this expressionist flair is only an appearance. The paintings are obviously done quickly, filled in with the same promiscuous abandon with which Bosman takes the images from boy’s comic books. The surfaces of the paintings are lively, but totally deadpan. The paintings are about a kind of excitement, but not one of participation. Instead, they are about the excitement of having a drink while watching a late-night movie on TV.

With the practiced eye of the spectator who is forever condemned to making decisions only about peripheral matters, Bosman picks up on cliche, especially the kind of cliche which aims to fire our emotions, which inevitably betrays those emotions as it manipulates them. Bosman laughs at these manipulations,but his is a bitter laugh, for the manipulation is always successful.

As consumers we are led to believe that fantasy is the product of a liberated imagination, when in fact it is the result of the deepest of repressions. This in itself is depressing enough, but more depressing still is the discovery of the utter sameness of fantasy, of its predictable repetitiveness. Bosman understands that romance and adventure are fictional constructs, inseparable from their representations in pulp entertainment. Bosman translates this realization into the realm of art, discovering along the way that even the ways of handling paint considered to be the most personally expressive are implicated in this tyranny of the already-known, of the cliches which control our thought even as we attempt to free ourselves from them.

Thomas Lawson