New York

Robin Winters

Mary Boone Gallery | Chelsea

ROBIN WINTERS is as disrespectful as Fischl and Salle in pursuit of unsettling differences. He can almost be charged with being too consistent in his inconsistency. Winters sees himself as a joker, engaged in a humorous, off-hand terrorism aimed at causing fissures and cracks in the ideological constraints which deny us the freedom we like to think we enjoy. As it suits him, he is by turns performer, impresario, writer, painter and sculptor. Defiantly, he is not any one thing. but whatever he does becomes an anarchic obsession, a disruption.

His sensibility of excess is given form by the skimpiest of means. Endless little physiognomic drawings appear on scraps of cheap paper: a funny, rather touching typology. There is a series of portraits, painted on plaster He has helped to organize vaguely political, sprawling group theme shows which are presented in unusual locations. And he creates paintings which make fun of that male myth-making, European tradition best exemplified by Picasso.

A great deal of Winters’ work can be too easily dismissed as a continuation of neo-Dada activity, as antiart with a smiling face. So his decision to show paintings in a conventional gallery is a welcome one, for the shift of context allows his critical methodology a wider scope. Just as his many fringe projects throw a certain light on the commercial art market, so his participation in that market now throws a skeptical light on the more naive assumptions of that other activity. The paradoxical coexistence of the publicly funded outlaw and the market-conscious producer allows Winters to transcend his self-appointed role as joker, as purveyor of attitude. He can begin to seriously address the esthetic and political contradictions at the heart of art-world practice.