New York

Scott Richter

Elizabeth Harris Gallery

Why bother to paint when one not only lacks the skill but also doesn’t even seem to enjoy the attempt? The question invites a number of possible answers, several of which were on display in Scott Richter’s recent exhibition, “Portraits: Based on the Irreconcilable” (irreconcilable with what?). First, one may be absorbed, as Richter appears to be, in the production of latter-day “bad painting,” in the tipping of one’s art-historical hat to a quasi-movement associated with the bad old days of Fun Gallery and the calculatedly messy work of the Hamburg-based painters, such as Albert Oehlen and Werner Buttner, who made the German New Wave a big splash. One may thereby involve oneself in “honoring” an outré past by becoming a “clever” epigone.

Second, one may have a taste for schlock. I didn’t bother to count the number of paintings in Richter’s show, but they seemed to keep on coming in a steady

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