new-york

Irving Petlin

Kent Fine Art

This small retrospective survey focused on Irving Petlin’s work in the relatively neglected medium of pastel. Besides Lucas Samaras and, more recently, Jane Dickson, Petlin is one of the few contemporary artists to have made pastels an essential part of his ongoing project. Clearly, he believes drawing is still a viable practice, and he makes no concessions to the host of unspoken proscriptions regarding drawing, painting, the use of metaphor, and relevant subject matter. In nearly all of his pastels, Petlin depicts one or more figures in a landscape. But the figure is more a motif than a subject. Among other things, the drawings are philosophical speculations on the relationship of the individual with both the world and Jewish culture. By choosing to focus on biography and culture, Petlin deliberately challenges all the paradigms developed by formalist critics and artists. Moreover, by

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