new-york

Kenny Scharf

Tony Shafrazi Gallery

Although it’s customary to describe Kenny Scharf’s recent paintings as “post”—postapocalyptic, postmutant, etc.—certainly they show as much retroactivity as prophecy, in fact maybe more past than future. The space of the paintings is oceanic or stratospheric, in any case without boundaries; each teeming element is bonded to the next in a limitless expanse (a perhaps unintentional but no less funny riposte to “alloverness”). Inside and outside migrate; in Sexadansa, 1983, there’s a universe inside each stick figure’s mouth, and the twinkles in their eyes are stars or suns of a remote galaxy. The Big Bang becomes la petite mort in Sexadansa. Elsewhere, the single identifiable locale is the tropical beach, not only the place you test atom bombs but also where you trace the origin of the species.

In general, the work is regressive—in the primitivism of an Egyptian pose, in the revival of the

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