Magazine article Artforum International

Chuck Close

Magazine article Artforum International

Chuck Close

Article excerpt

PACE GALLERY

Chuck Close's recent colossal portraits are a testament to painting's continued vitality. The brilliance and appeal of their lushly painted surfaces are not indicative of a post-Whitney Biennial trauma--a swing of the pendulum of artistic style and taste away from "political" art as if in protest--rather, they suggest that painting is still capable of acting on the spectator.

Using his now-familiar method of transposing photographic portraits onto canvas with a polychromatic grid, Close's recent paintings have matured to the extent that each two-inch square is an independent abstract painting worthy of estheti scrutiny. What we gain from looking at these portraits of well-established artists (John Chamberlain, Janet Fish, Kiki Smith) is not the satisfaction of recognizing John, 1992, Janet, 1992, or Kiki, 1993, but of finding ourselves captive to the subtle nuances and shifting textures that transform the images before our eyes as we pass them, stop, move closer, or further away. In time, w find ourselves dancing with each portrait, responding with slight bodily shifts to the change in focus of the colossal heads. …

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