new-york

Paul McMahon

Artists Space Exhibitions

Two other small events from the end of last season deserve mention. Both were too quiet to attract much attention or to have much of a lasting impact, but slightness can be a virtue, and both demonstrated that. They may not have blown anyone over, but their humor and intelligence in the face of so much dull pretension provided pleasant relief.

Paul McMahon is the balladeer of life in Lower Manhattan, singing artfully simple songs of the joys and fears, and, most especially, of the paranoias of New York’s artistic demimonde. His words are simple, his tunes are simple, his presentation is burdened with a minimum of show or effect, but because they cut so close to the bone, and in ways that are intensely personal (even the least imagination can match names to McMahon’s often reptilian disguises), his songs are simultaneously unbearably sad and very funny. The songs are full of yearning, but

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