New York

Salomé

Annina Nosei Gallery

Salomé’s painting is much more expressionistic than Zucker’s, but he, like Zucker, depicts frenetic situations lyrically, and in a style devoid of personal emotionalism. In his new canvases Salomé’s figures are more detailed than in previous work, but no more individual. Naked male figures, in groups of five or six, twist, bend, and posture in what could be either joy or pain. An occasional figure will appear walking, looking over his shoulder and wearing pants; and a leaping, clothed figure, shown from the back, appears in more than one painting. Space is distorted; the figures are piled on top of each other on the canvases as if they were meant to be alone, with the larger figures sometimes appearing behind the smaller ones. Though their positions might seem sexual, there is no real evidence of sexual activity; if any of the figures are touching each other, they are merely crowded into the picture, and not interacting.

Attempting to discern for sure just what these figures are doing or are about to do seems an idle pursuit. Neo-Expressionists like Fetting or Julian Schnabel make sure, as the German Expressionists did, that we understand at least vaguely the situations or emotions of their characters, or how the artists feel about them; Salomé turns the notion of expressionist painting upside down by giving us less than enough information to know, but enough to wonder about, his meaning. We are left to fill in the blanks with whatever we choose, or suspect—Salomé doesn’t really seem to care. His figures tease us, as if they were performers acting the way they think their audience would like them to, or believe that they should in a neo-Expressionist painting. The deliberate absence of expressionist drama makes these paintings memorable, and provocative. Salomé’s historical self-awareness is curiously disarming.

Joan Casademont