New York

Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid

Ronald Feldman Gallery

The relation between conceptual art and painting remains an uncertain marriage. It was in defiance of their rigid separation by the cultural status quo that Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid first sullied their “pure” idea art with the sensual, and therefore more marketable, trappings of painting. It’s now been long enough since this collaborative duo returned to the academic style in which they were trained, a gesture at once sentimental and satiric, that the irony one expected to find in their most recent show stemmed in part from the eclipse of their conceptual status, the ease with which they have settled into the art world’s commodity machinery. Komar and Melamid may have drifted away from the art-market innuendo that barbed much of their previous work (such as their project of buying and selling souls), but the paintings they now produce are equally sarcastic as allusive caricatures

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