zurich

Emil Michael Klein, Untitled, 2017, oil on canvas, 101 1/8 x 75 5/8".

Emil Michael Klein

Kunsthalle Zurich

Emil Michael Klein, Untitled, 2017, oil on canvas, 101 1/8 x 75 5/8".

Emil Michael Klein’s paintings are as boring as the novels of Bret Easton Ellis or Karl Ove Knausgaard. Klein’s paintings, like Ellis’s descriptions of sexual violence or Knausgaard’s of his breakfast, are painstaking, methodical, and indifferent to the audience. And like both writers’ prose, the results are repetitive, inhumane, and strangely compelling. Asking if Klein is a good painter seems as beside the point as asking if Knausgaard writes well—for their works have as much of the character and motivation of scientific experiments as they do of artworks. What these works present is a clear hypothesis, systematic construction, and an attempt at completeness. Which is all a way of saying, as Sianne Ngai might, that this is interesting boring.

Take, for instance, a recent series of pink monochromes, “Untitled,” 2015–17. In making these soft, thick fields of color, Klein begins

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