New York

View of “Squeak Carnwath,” 2019. From left: Unlock Love, 2018; Send Help, 2017; No Longer, 2017; Message in a Bottle, 2018.

View of “Squeak Carnwath,” 2019. From left: Unlock Love, 2018; Send Help, 2017; No Longer, 2017; Message in a Bottle, 2018.

Squeak Carnwath

Jane Lombard Gallery

I walked into Squeak Carnwath’s exhibition just after hearing Carolee Schneemann had died. Raw from the loss of an artist who refused to smooth out her contradictions in the service of easy consumption, I was particularly receptive to the stimulating and unapologetic mixture of fatalism, anger, and humor that characterizes Carnwath’s work, much as it does Schneemann’s. Certainly, I had underestimated the Oakland, California–based artist’s ferocity.

Carnwath builds her paintings on grounds of milky white, cream, beige, and light gray, layering alkyd oil colors so that the surface becomes a dense fog from which her rudimentary scrawls and visual motifs emerge. The palette may be muted, but the sentiment is not. Take Tools for Poetry, 2017, a painting almost six feet by six feet that’s bisected by an irregular gray line. On the left-hand side is a column of fifty-four PRETTY WORDS written in

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