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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