Magazine article Artforum International

Todd Mckie

Magazine article Artforum International

Todd Mckie

Article excerpt

BARBARA SINGER FINE ART

In flatly rendered configurations of humanoids, animal creatures, plant life, and pottery positioned atop basically monochromatic grounds, the thirteen small-scale, brightly colored canvases in Todd McKie's recent show, all but one painted in synthetic vinyl, merge liberal borrowings from the history of art with apparently simple quasi-abstract biomorphic forms. The resulting works, highly self-contained paintings that suggest influences from pre-Columbian vases to Matisse, Dubuffet, and Miro, feature anthropomorphic characters who act Out the myriad trials and triumphs of McKie's life.

A Cambridge-based artist, McKie is also a writer, and his titles are humorous equivalents to the quirky beings that populate his canvases. Works like So Many Colors, So Little Time, 1999 (a play on an '80s disco song), and Post-Chromatic Stress Syndrome, 1999, chronide his experience of rushing to complete the works for the exhibition and his subsequent anxiety and sense of loss once the finished paintings were shipped off.

McKie is at his best when he is commenting on his obsessive relation to the modernist masters. In Rust Never Sleeps, 1999, the largest work in the show, he offers his version of a Calder mobile. The ovoid shapes of the mobile's six abstract flat designs are repeated in the oversize brown, potato-like head and elongated torso of a central figure. The armless orange hand positioned on the figure's chest is a stunning cactuslike hybrid of a Matisse cutout. …

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