Newport Beach

Peter Saul

Orange County Museum of Art

OK, I MESSED UP / WHAT’S NEXT? asks a man with an extra ear and nose, his ocher and hot pink face feverishly oozing beyond its familiar contours, in a typically nightmarish painting by Peter Saul (OK, I Messed Up . . . , 2003). The question—a casual admission of guilt immediately followed by a lusty lurch forward—marks a moment of unvarnished self-awareness in this timely retrospective of the painter’s genuinely unsettling corpus. People tend to either love or hate Saul’s paintings, though some split the difference, detesting their lurid subject matter—which aims to offend everybody, if we take the artist at his word—while still indulging their eye-popping, radioactive surfaces. But once encountered up close and personal, Saul’s canvases make being indifferent impossible. This succinct yet intense career survey, organized by Dan Cameron and traveling from southern California to the

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