Gary Stephan

Mary Boone Gallery | Chelsea

To draw an analogy between Michelangelo, mad genius of the Renaissance, and Gary Stephan, an exceedingly rational contemporary painter, no doubt seems quixotic, but therein lies a seedling of sense. Michelangelo’s antagonism toward the act of painting is legendary—it was a process he suffered principally for the sake of costly marble, and agonized traces permeate the wracked musculatures and grimaces of his unwillingly two-dimensional subjects. The efforts of God and Adam on the Sistine ceiling, to cite the most obvious example, suggest a dual morphogenesis: the biblical metaphor for creation, of course, but also the aborted Geist of sculpture. While Stephan does not hate to paint, the body of his work over the last several years can broadly be described as a painstaking and systematic program to establish volume on a flat plane, and the resulting tension is pivotal.

Stephan has labored to

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