Ryan McLaughlin, Demeter, 2017, oil on canvas, 15 1/2 × 24".

Ryan McLaughlin

Adams and Ollman

Ryan McLaughlin, Demeter, 2017, oil on canvas, 15 1/2 × 24".

Recently returned to the US after a multiyear sojourn in Berlin, American painter Ryan McLaughlin has come home to a changed nation. His country’s public life, always grotesque, has become an outright horror show, riven by daily violence and the breakdown of any common public language. How might a painter like McLaughlin, of such searching intelligence and melancholy sensibility, get along in this stridently polarized era?

At Adams and Ollman, McLaughlin continued his long-standing practice of graphic appropriation, showing a suite of seven paintings from 2017 that feature hieroglyphic shapes set afloat in fields of gentle taupes, tans, and frank browns. Demeter, one of the larger works on display, presents fruit-like forms—a dusty hot-pink apple recognizable by its stem, maybe a banana, and maybe a wilted green snap pea—rendered in silhouette beneath a sickly (yet lovely)

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