new-york

Charline von Heyl

Petzel Gallery | West 18th Street

It’s been roughly ten years since Charline von Heyl started showing her abstract paintings—first in Germany in the early ’90s and by mid-decade in New York. Even though her oil and mixed-media works on canvas have developed considerably, they retain their tentativeness and, overall, their unevenness. Doubt, it would seem, is an ever-present condition in her art. Is this a virtue, or does it diminish the work? How is the credibility of the better work affected by those paintings that ask how much “ugly” they can take and still remain viable? This exhibition, von Heyl’s best to date, offers no resolution to the questions her paintings seem intentionally to provoke.

Here von Heyl presented ten paintings, each measuring seventy-eight by eighty-two inches or vice versa—big enough to push doubt to the fore. Squarely situated in the anti-aesthetic tradition, they come with the “bad

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