Fredericks & Freiser Gallery is currently hosting Topical, an exhibition of very fun new paintings by Keegan McHargue. In Topical, McHargue returns to the human figure, albeit broadly shaped, satirical versions. His paintings have been described as “Hairy Who meets South Park, where social commentary comes wrapped in the guise of humor,” and I can definitely understand why.
Though their expressions and gestures are generalized, McHargue defines his subjects in surprisingly specific ways. A woman’s lower torso is a single grotesque foot. A butterfly with human legs drifts in outer space. An artist paints the landscape wearing a Colonial hairdo sporting the body of a Centaur. The topographies are identifiable yet seem as intuitive as the figures. The New York-based painter’s use of childlike motifs, like a flat yellow sun appearing in the corner of the picture frame, lends his paintings a kind of innocence, despite the depravity that they sometimes contain in their weird scenes. All of these rather disparate elements come together with some kind of strange logic in McHargue’s world.
In an essay on the artist, Ross Simonini writes “McHargue compresses and reduces and distills the image until it functions, like an icon, on the simplest, most unfettered visual wavelength. He thinks about the freedom inherent in minimalism while he works. It keeps his attention focused on the singularity of the idea, so that the image’s energy appears to emerge from a point somewhere deep within itself and ripple outward into a sea of visual ideas, each one nestled into its neighbor, like a liquid puzzle. The feeling of looking is not dissimilar from seeing ancient Islamic and Hindu art, where narrative and space and subject flow into a single current.”
Keegan McHargue’s Topical will be on Exhibit Through October 10th, 2015, at Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, Located at 536 West 24th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.