Restless beast

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Leon Golub’s got some small–that’s right, I said small–works on paper up at Seraphin Gallery, along with some small canvases. I guess the two typical, large canvases came along for protection, but it was the small works that packed a punch.

The name of the show is “Live and Die Like a Lion,” and a couple of the small lion and dog images were macho alter-egos for the artist, now in his 80s and still making art. (Shown above, “Alarmed Dog Encountering Pink,” which amused me no end). The dogs were my favorite–restless beasts thwarted by patches of color.

Part of the charm of the drawings was their freshness, a kind of play and loosening up for the bigger pieces. The themes included art issues as well as subjects relevant to his larger, cultural/political pieces, but less belabored (shown, “Gunman Caught in Red Abstraction”).

Amongst the drawings, I particularly liked “Payback Time” and “Mr. Kinky” (shown), street characters whom we all know, yet don’t know at all, delivering an aura menace and victimhood in one fell swoop.

The small canvases kept to the typical Golub themes of social injustice (shown, “Bite Your Tongue #2,” which says Bite your tongue, Save your ass, certainly a bitter bit of commentary from someone who feels powerless). In them Golub’s hallmark method of scraping and painting and scraping some more has been either toned down or not used altogether. The work looked great.

Look for a couple of publications–a Golub catalog and a boxed set of prints–coming out of the gallery in the spring.

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