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Karlo Kacharava, English Romanticism, 1993, oil on canvas 39 3/8 × 39 3/8". From “Sputterances.”

“Sputterances”

Metro Pictures

Karlo Kacharava, English Romanticism, 1993, oil on canvas 39 3/8 × 39 3/8". From “Sputterances.”

“A poem should not mean but be,” a poet formerly famous once wrote: The line is a perfect example of one that does the opposite of what it says, since the dictum’s force lies in its all-too-seductively self-evident meaning. Language only begins to reveal its being when meaning trips itself up, when communicative urgency interferes with its own expression. The Dutch artist René Daniëls must have had something like this in mind when he coined the delightful portmanteau sputterance—the term denoting, apparently, an enunciation whose very resistance to completion or closure constitutes its significance. Today, amid insistent demands for clear and correct messaging in art as in culture more generally, it’s good to be reminded that painting, like poetry, can be most affecting when meaning’s misfires become the work’s substance. Taking Daniëls as his Virgil, painter Sanya Kantarovsky

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