the Times does Paul P.

colored pencil on paper (2002) [not in the current show]

I've been neglectful.

Almost didn't mention the wonderful review which Paul P.'s show at Daniel Reich received this past week from Holland Cotter in the NYTimes.

So I'll print the entire text to make up for the delay.

Paul P.
Daniel Reich
308 West 21st Street, 2A, Chelsea
Through Aug. 2

Paul P., who is based in Toronto, makes an attractive New York solo debut with this show of 20 colored-pencil portraits of young men. Seductive, reflective or goofy, the pictures look informal enough to have been taken from life, though each face comes from gay pornography of the 1970's and early 80's.

Paul P. has done much to aestheticize his subjects. The obvious model is Whistler, with his wispy touch and a Symbolist sensibility, though most of the Whistlerian effects are relegated to background elements: patterned wallpaper, flowers or shimmery curtains in bleached pink, sooty lavender and jaundice yellow. By contrast, the faces are rendered carefully and deliberately, with each beautiful feature and gauche flaw carefully observed, like those of Caravaggio's punk-angels.

Given the identity of Paul P.'s subjects — sexually active men at the beginning of the AIDS era — the drawings can't help seeming like memorial portraits. At the same time the work is different in tone from most art produced during the AIDS crisis. These aren't heroicizing or mournful portraits: however historically aware, they're secondhand, distanced, dandified and oddly unsensual, as if their homoeroticism was taken for granted, or beside the point, or part of some larger, still-developing content or style.

What the developments will be, I'm not sure. But place Paul P.'s work with that of other young artists like Christian Holstad, Assume Vivid Astro Focus (a k a Eli Sudbrack), Scott Hug, Asianpunkboy, Phiiliip, and Hiroshi Sunairi, to name just a few, and it seems clear that some new, multifarious version of "gay art" is in formation, just in time for this post-criminal, premarital, passively resistant gay moment.

Wispy Whistler and Caravaggio's punk-angels! Yea!

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Published on July 24, 2003 1:32 AM.

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