Magazine article Artforum International

Sidney Goodman

Magazine article Artforum International

Sidney Goodman

Article excerpt

There is, of course, no such thing as realism. As Donald Kuspit recently pointed out, the hyperprecision of a painter like Philip Pearlstein is actually rooted in a fascination with abstract, reified surfaces. By contrast, Sidney Goodman's notion of the real has less to do with verisimilitude than with the intensity of dreams; his work looks back, through aspects of Surrealism, to the eccentric fin-de-siecle visions of artists such as Odilon Redon.

Like many of the Symbolists, Goodman is more consistently effective on paper than on canvas; his paintings, though ambitious, are sometimes overly rhetorical. Of course, some may find even his drawings to be overstated; this is not an artist who knows how to take it easy. On the evidence of his recent drawings, Goodman would appear to be someone willing himself to visionary status, his unlikely means to that end being a compound of beaux-arts pictorial rhetoric and cinematic tropes.

In Night Vision, 1993, a large work in pastel and charcoal, Goodman plays, as he often does, on the contrast between black and white passages and those in color. At the right, emerging from a deep black ground, we see, as though from above, a sleeping woman, her flesh bathed in brightness. Inexplicably, her head lies in shadow. To her left sit fat red coils of what might be a python, though there is no detail that might identify this as anything other than an abstract configuration. …

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