new-york

Steven Campbell

Barbara Toll Gallery and John Weber Gallery

“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,/Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!” goes Robert Burns’ “Address to a Haggis,” and the burr in the rhythm and roll of these words has, without map or lexicon, found its way into the big, stumpy, juicy, and very funny paintings of Steven Campbell. Maps, however, have played a large part in Campbell’s farcical vision of his fellow Scots and, more generally, their fellow British islanders of the lumpen classes, ever planning out expeditions into Nature with befuddlement and far too much equipment. In The Man Who Climbs Maps, 1983, a youngish camper stands near a shack, a teeny tent, and a toppled directional marker; he is all prepared, but physically twisted and perceptually overwhelmed by the map he holds, the sole object of his energies and attention. In Campbell’s detailed scenes campers’ tents are always wee, figures always clubby, and nature always

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