New York

Verne Dawson, Expulsion, 2019, oil on linen, 78 × 112".

Verne Dawson

Eva Presenhuber | New York

Gavin Brown's Enterprise | New York

Every deck of cards contains a secret calendar. We may pass the hours (or kill them) playing endless games of solitaire, but those kings and queens we’re shuffling symbolize time itself: fifty-two cards for fifty-two weeks in a year, parceled into four seasons. Jokers are leap days, and the thirteen cards comprising each suit represent the new moons. This is the kind of gorgeous arcana that informs the work of Verne Dawson, an Alabama-born painter fascinated by the allegories we have devised to make sense of the world and our place within it. The artist’s interviews and exhibition texts reflect an astounding wealth of research—a trove of natural history and folklore laced with ancient myth, modern archetypes, Christian fables, and pagan rites.

The problem with Dawson’s recent works, however, is that they rarely possess the power and complexity of their source material. His latest portrayals

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