new-york

Philip Pearlstein, Two Models with Peruvian Medicine Man, 2011, oil on canvas, 60 x 48".

Philip Pearlstein

Betty Cuningham Gallery

Philip Pearlstein, Two Models with Peruvian Medicine Man, 2011, oil on canvas, 60 x 48".

Philip Pearlstein regards the body as a “territory for abstraction”—so writes Desirée Alvarez, an artist and a longtime model for the artist’s painting. This is a counterintuitive approach to figuration, Alvarez explains, because we always experience our bodies as “visceral,” and are therefore drawn to representations of it that are also visceral. Pearlstein’s language of abstraction is thus a challenge. Indeed, the bodies he paints lack any organic quality. There’s no “lushness,” no sense of flourishing flesh. The skin looks thin and dried. And his nudes are often irksomely positioned—their legs are often crossed or bent. (The crooked arrangement of limbs is not entirely unprecedented, sharing a certain affinity with the strangely eccentric pose of the Venus in Bronzino’s An Allegory with Venus and Cupid, ca. 1545.)

Such attributes were fully on view in the ten paintings

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