new-york

Ellen Gallagher, IGBT, 2008, gesso, gold leaf, ink, varnish, and cut paper on paper, 79 1/2 x 74".

Ellen Gallagher

Gagosian | 522 West 21st Street

Ellen Gallagher, IGBT, 2008, gesso, gold leaf, ink, varnish, and cut paper on paper, 79 1/2 x 74".

Greasy. The word less sits on the page than penetrates it, threatening slickness or seepage, and, more to the point, an unruly mess. That it reads as inescapably classed is apposite, too, as is the implication of unmanageable hair and one of its oft-advertised solutions, pomade, given Ellen Gallagher’s previous employment of the stuff. Indeed, for “Greasy,” the artist’s first solo show in New York in five years, she invoked several protagonists, narratives, and strategies from her past work, such as the lined penmanship paper and disembodied minstrel lips found in the pieces that first brought her critical attention, and the magazine and newspaper substrates that followed. If anything, her recursive process further clarified the slipperiness of her forms, demonstrating how hard Gallagher has to work to manage them, how conditional is any instance of their becoming—and, most

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