New York

Brian Calvin

Anton Kern Gallery

An unofficial poll conducted on the opening night of painter Brian Calvin’s New York solo debut found several visitors prefacing their responses with an identical qualifier: “I wanted to like it, but . . . ” This raises a couple of questions: Why were so many so eager to buy into the hype surrounding this laid-back Californian, and why were they so disappointed? An appreciation of Calvin’s work has always depended on a tolerance for what the gallery’s press release terms “bi-dimensionality”—a flatly undemonstrative mode in which very little “happens” and ambiguity of mood and meaning dominates—and that should have given New Yorkers fair warning to take things slow for once. Yet they seemed nonetheless confounded by the Berkeley graduate’s unhurried canvases.

Calvin has drawn impatient fire in the past for his apparent celebration of the melancholic torpor in which the slacker kids

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