Dennis Nechvatal

The overwhelming reason one is drawn to the idiosyncratic paintings of Dennis Nechvatal is the fact that he has the moxie to pull them off. They are unfashionably phantasmagorical, esthetically gauche, and highly imaginative. But it takes more than Nechvatal’s disturbing brand of courage to make such paintings work, and he has the raw talent to bring them to life.

Nechvatal, a young Wisconsin artist, completed the 56 oil and acrylic paintings and charcoal drawings in this show at a prolific rate over the last three years. Any doubts raised by his first one-person show here, in 1980—that this academically trained artist might simply be posing as a provincial primitive—have been erased by the current exhibition. In painting after painting Nechvatal grasps something of Wisconsin’s dark, rural underworld with a vividness that is genuinely unsettling. There is a psychological, almost pathological

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