San Francisco

Brett Reichman

Rena Bransten Gallery

A recurring leitmotif of much recent art is a vision of childhood as paradise lost, in which toys, stuffed animals, and even children themselves seem to have run amok. Often the impetus for this kind of work appears to be a kind of mourning for a collective loss of innocence: a longing for something irretrievably destroyed, presumably by “modern life.” Yet this kind of work is sometimes generated by much more complicated and interesting emotions and ideas. Brett Reichman’s paintings of elfin characters, for instance, may exude a palpable melancholy, but a closer examination of these profoundly seductive compositions yields a number of thoughtful, additional readings.

To begin with, the cartoony, ornate, vividly hued baroque motifs that often appear in these paintings offer a sharp-edged commentary on our culture-wide obsession with appearances—especially when contrasted with Reichman’s

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