new-york

Steve Gianakos, It Was Hard to Tell What She Was Thinking, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 48 × 36".

Steve Gianakos

Fredericks & Freiser

Steve Gianakos, It Was Hard to Tell What She Was Thinking, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 48 × 36".

The cartoonlike paintings that Steve Gianakos has been making since the early 1970s have long been perverse, and this particular group seems to me no more or less so than earlier ones. But it ranks with the best of his work in its formal intelligence, and in the friction that quality creates with its decidedly sordid content. Like those Hitchcock films so artfully constructed that you find yourself rooting for the criminal, the paintings are utterly involving, but the viewer who enjoys them may end up feeling queasy about himself. The issues Gianakos is raising, though, are never far from the surface of psychic life. As graphic plays of black and white planes and lines, with occasional grays, the images have a basic unreality, nesting themselves securely as fictions, but the mind that tries to write them off as such is intercepted by reality.

The paintings fell mostly into two

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