Paint me a sheep


Rudolf Stingel, Untitled (After Sam) oil on canvas, 2005-6. Click image to see it bigger.

So if the idiosyncratic poster project in the Whitney Biennial 2006 catalog is called Draw me a Sheep (see post) I’d call the idiosyncratic paintings in the show Paint me a sheep. The paintings are a funny lot that mostly don’t stand out in a show with incredible visual noise.

So it’s not a big painting biennial. But then neither was the last one if memory serves. I don’t have much to say other than that Rudolf Stingel‘s huge photo-realist self-portrait (image at top) was sited beautifully in the Urs Fischer space with the broken walls.

Not only is the huge grisaille oil on canvas appropriately downbeat but it’s the only rectangle in a room most notable for its references to rotundity — wax circles on the floor, circular holes in the walls.

Stingel’s portrait is an icon of despair accessorized with a touch of Ralph Lauren. Somehow that’s a perfect snapshot of the times: We’re going to hell but we’ll be well dressed, dammit.

Michael Snow’s poster in the catalog. It appears to be a still from the video SHEEPLOOP.

Apart from that and speaking of sheep, I’ll mention Michael Snow‘s “SHEEPLOOP, 2000” a 15-minute video loop which I saw high up on a wall between paintings by Spencer Sweeney and Ed Paschke. Because the video is so static — I mean how much do sheep move when they’re grazing? — it’s an almost perfect virtual painting for the time. A beautiful landscape that’s about nothing but sheep grazing. Well, of course it’s about people too. And that’s a pretty nihilistic thought.

Michael Snow SHEEPLOOP, 2000, video with three monitors, silent. 15 minute continuous loop, installed in monitor here high on the wall. To the right of the guard is one of Spencer Sweeney’s paintings.

And newsflash from Alex Baker, PAFA curator extraordinaire whom I saw at the opening of Nadia Hironaka‘s Morris Gallery installation at PAFA Friday night: Spencer Sweeney is a Philly boy! He went to PAFA, in fact. And even though he lives in New York now we’ll count him a homey, too. Score two Philadelphia entries in the show.


michael snow, rudolf stingel



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