Lowly resume


by Nathan Matteson
from the
New City, November, 2000


"OK, these are some weird paintings.
They put us in a position that's not the most comfortable place to be. It's something that probably doesn't happen enough in commercial galleries. Lowly is giving us a narrative -- a bath
scene -- a fairly typical subject for painting.
But in each of the six pictures we're left
somewhat in the cold -- we're not given the
whole story. It's mostly through severe
cropping and unusual perspective that
we're kept at an unusual distance from the
events at hand: Three pictures that look
straight down into the tub from an unvom-
fortably close distance directly above; one
close up of two hands holding each other;
and a face framed withing soapy water.
Both the directness of the paint handling
and the idea of flesh touching wet flesh
suggest an initmacy that stands in contrast
to the discomfiture that is forced upon the
viewer, for we seem both intusive and
extraneous. Within this, there's a pleasant
ambiguity: who's bathing who and, of
course, why? The situation, and our viola-
tion of it, finally become startlingly clear in
the soapy portrait of the anrogynous and
retarded bather. The bath, as conven-
tional subject for painting, has probably
been long under-used. Thank God some-
body's out there to pick up the slack."


Copyright © Nathan Matteson 2000

Nathan Matteson is a Chicago based critic.

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