Cliffton Peacock

Alpha Gallery

While the influence of Philip Guston is evident in Cliffton Peacock’s lushly painted portraits of phantasmal beings, the Charleston, South Carolina–based artist’s former teacher is not his only role model. Peacock also aligns his work with, as he puts it, “the modestly scaled images of a single head made by Old Masters and hidden in the corners of museums.” Like such portraits, the fourteen new pieces at Alpha Gallery are at times psychologically compelling, at times inscrutably ambiguous.

Featuring foreboding, distorted faces positioned against lavishly brushed, nearly monochromatic backgrounds, Peacock’s new canvases (all works 2009) are sparer and less allegorically rich than those by Guston or, to cite more contemporary works, those of Dana Schutz (whose paintings also recall Guston). But at the same time, Peacock trades in Schutz’s demented pictorial vocabulary: A soldier is clothed

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