new-york

Leon Golub

Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

An odd thought: the sphinx as off-road vehicle. Such is its apparent function in Leon Golub’s recent departure from his familiar inquiries into the realms of power and abuse. The sphinx serves, by all appearance, as his temporary transport into the adjacent terrain of the enigmatic, paradoxical, and pataphysical. According to Robert Graves, mythology’s most famous riddler asked, “What being, with only one voice, has sometimes two feet, sometimes three, sometimes four, and is weakest when it has the most?” The answer, as depicted in three of Golub’s current paintings, is the sphinx itself. The ancient riddle turns back reflexively, a conundrum that remains unresolved and unsolvable even when, as Jean Baudrillard suggests, it is inverted: “It is man who puts to the sphinx, to the inhuman, the question of the inhuman.”

The hybrid monster in Yellow Sphinx, 1988, rears up heraldically, its two

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