Nicholas May

South London Art Gallery/Victoria Miro

Organized by the Cornerhouse in Manchester, concurrent shows at two London galleries presented Nicholas May’s newest paintings. In these works, metal or bituminous sealants—materials more commonly used on car bodies or roofs—are laid on canvas and then gouged and moved about with sticks; before it hardens, metal powder is sprinkled over the surface. The result is perplexing since the powder both highlights the contours of the manipulated sealant and gives the surface a flat appearance that resembles that of a photograph.

The series “Liminal,” 1993–94, creates the impression of going from one threshold to another, of flipping into another mode of address, almost as if switching the level of magnification on a telescope or microscope. One indulges in a range of observations from the interplanetary to the intramolecular.

May seems to have pulled these paintings of the last year with their newly

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