new-york

Keith Mayerson

Derek Eller Gallery

Keith Mayerson’s painting cycle “Hamlet 1999,” 2001–2004, is nothing less than an attempt to synthesize received images of high art, popular entertainment, and American history into a chronicle of an alternative, potentially revolutionary masculinity. It looks, however, like the product of a guy who paints in a converted garage, watching DVDs with one eye, the news with the other, and an art-history textbook with an enlightened third.

The plotless “narrative” of more than one hundred canvases, rendered in a palette of marigold and pea soup, has only a general order, accumulating meaning frame by frame like an exploded comic book. Its tragic drift is bookended by a pair of GWs: Bush, recognizably smug even in a few blotches of oil paint, and Washington, à la Gilbert Stuart but mortally disappointed. The latter’s a Ghost, and the former’s an arch-Claudius; but the figures that recur—among

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