New York

Peter Nadin

Jack Tilton Gallery

Most painters paint what’s in their head; with Peter Nadin you are always somewhere. He gives you a view; he frames things. In the frames of 19 small paintings he gives us the views at Penistone, in the U.K. Sometimes the view is very narrow, limited visibility, of a bottleneck in a mouth, or of nose and eyes; sometimes there’s a whole figure and some country. Sometimes there’s the long tracking shot: a poplar-lined roadway from the ground, then again from the air.

You always think about what it is you see, then you think about where it is and therefore where you are (where Nadin was.) The Penistone series is black and white, leaving more than usual to the imagination, although the bananas, wine, and countryside are a matter of facts.The look is a nice referential, storyboard kind of look, hinting, cluing, isolating details from an absent whole.

Nadin’s work is sort of the best of bad painting, gaily zen in its autofocus serenity—like a dot, but with light at the end of it. These are views, moods, almost as specific as hieroglyphs, with no distractions.

The colored paintings are expansive through their color where the black and whites are focused. Still Life, 1983, radiates aura, like an exercise in MOR Van Gogh, Vincent with mood elevators in a Pocono-bridal-suite palette. A farmhouse is drawn in psychotic perspective, but it looks happy anyway because the light is right. The piece is tough, radiant, but oddly nice.

The “Fountain City” series, 1984, was done on the spot, in color, in some place called Fountain City. Fountain City colors might be ugly colors, but somehow Nadin juggles them into a wacky harmony. His taste moves upstream but it arrives. Sometimes the Fountain City house looks as if it’s surrounded by a strange salad, sometimes by a very old salad, and when the lawn turns red you might wonder why red lawns aren’t more popular.

Glenn O'Brien