New York

William T. Wiley

Allan Frumkin Gallery

Maybe because I have not spent enough time on the West Coast, William Wiley’s work just looks tiresome to me. I know it is supposed to be funny, but it demands so much work that all the fun is gone by the time you get to the punchline. You have to look at a lot of stuff, decipher a lot of scribbling, and the returns just are not all that rewarding. We are supposed to think kindly of Wiley’s productions, taking them as down-home shaggy dog stories which deflate high-art pretensions. But their dogged quaintness is a pretension, and a sentimental one, for these works seem relentlessly coy in their rugged folksiness.

The work in this show is mostly huge charcoal drawings on canvas, intricate webs of line which depict a nightmarish coalescing of landscape, figure, and language. Information pops out of the dense, over-populated space only to be swallowed up again before becoming fully present.

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