New York

Ellen Gallagher

Gagosian Gallery (21)

SLYLY LOVELY AND PERVERSELY INDIRECT, Ellen Gallagher's work concerns inscription and sign systems and addresses the fragmentations and provocations of racialized identity. She belongs to a generation of young artists who infuse Minimalist form with corporeal, social, and emotive content: The apparent serenity of her large, airy paintings exists in tension with the marginalia yielded by a closer look—snippets of nasty minstrelsy, secret doodles, and ragged grids of grade-school penmanship paper. In these nine canvases, comprising the artist's third exhibition in New York all this and more was on display.

The show was titled “Blubber,” a word evocative of clumsy grief and Melville's well-known chapter on “The Whiteness of the Whale”—not to mention Judy Blume's tale of particularly female grammar-school cruelty. Resonant with but not circumscribed by these citations, Blubber, 2000,

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