new-york

Cliffton Peacock

Germans Van Eck

From a distance Cliffton Peacock’s colors—typically grayed-out purples and blues—seem dull and leaden, but on closer examination they take on the character of bruised flesh. Peacock works up flat overall backgrounds, applying these colors in thick, broad strokes, and then floats emblematic figures in front of them or depicts them emerging from the shadowy depths. In one painting (all works untitled 1990), a ghostly head, its features blurred into a blank mask, is positioned in the center of a flat off-grey background like the image on some primordial Shroud of Turin. In the most elaborately staged image here, a modeled head that recalls a Roman bust of a youth hovers in the sky above a rudimentarily sketched-in background; the word “Lost” is written in the sky along a dark silhouette of mountains.

Even in the livelier images a sense of melancholy prevails. In one, a crudely drawn dancing

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