New York

Hugh Steers

Midtown Payson Galleries

In Hugh Steers’ easel-sized figurative works, a modern theatricality is combined with a sketchy painterly manner reminiscent of old master painting. Stripped down to their underwear and depicted in drab but radiantly lit interiors, Steers’ figures appear transfixed by inexplicable gestures. Blank or pensive facial expressions register their alienation, yet the bleak reality depicted in these vignettes is to some extent tempered by the artist’s self-conscious black humor.

Steers invites us to share in private moments of anxious suspense or voyeuristic titillation that remain provocatively inexplicit, inducing a state of receptive (perhaps guilty) puzzlement. A work entitled Party Favors, 1990, suggests a self-portrait of the artist as comic dunce. Standing full-figure beside a grotesquely knotted drapery, the figure wears a bag over his head topped with a tricolored party hat and limply

Sign-in 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 September 1991 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

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