Los Angeles

Robbie Conal

Armory Center for the Arts

Robbie Conal has made a career creating caricatures of right-wing political and religious figures like Ed Meese and Dan Quayle that look like portraits of Dorian Grey at his most dissipated. Conal’s work is politically correct, as they say, but in the stalest way; it’s smug in its safety, and weak in its critique. Conal takes for granted that every human being’s head is buried in the sand, and presents us with weary generalities. He mouths the platitudes liberals like to hear the same way President Bush charms middlebrow conservatives.

Conal battles the powers that be by making the bad guys look ugly. To be corrupt, it would seem, is to have jagged facial features, a twisted-up mouth, thin lips, and bags under one’s eyes. Conal’s physical/spiritual creepiness equation adheres to the same rules that TV drama follows, i.e., a white drug dealer must have pock-marked cheeks.

Conal has preached

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. Please sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW and save up to 65% off the newsstand price for full online access to this issue and our archive.

Order the PRINT EDITION of the December 1990 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.