WEBEXCLUSIVE

An External/Eternal Affair: On the Recent Paintings of Carroll Dunham

GLADSTONE | APRIL 20 – JUNE 22, 2018

Carroll Dunham, Green Hills of Earth (2), 2017. Urethane, acrylic and pencil on linen
68 × 79 inches. © Carroll Dunham. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.



His hand skates.
Occasional, randomized spotted stains,
Primal calligraphy, palimpsests of East Village graffiti,
Among other common urban amplitudes,
With a somewhat constant speed on the explicit visual field.
He tinkers his-so-distinctive graphic impulse.

A pair of male nudes wrestle and fight
Any Day at Dusk on Green Hills of Earth.
Someone near me says far out!
She’s thinking aloud, fasten your alliances:
Mantegna’s magnificent engravings Battle of the Sea Gods,
Pollaiuolo’s Combat between Naked Men,
It’s the perception of struggle, not of fighting, that matters.

Theatrical repertoire willfully overturns physiognomic expression.
Between parts of the stylized body,
Solidarity dancing with agility, strange forms frolicking
Under the disguise of spheres and cylinders,
The human figure—in this neck of the woods—
Is impersonally personal; he has renounced
Any sentimental value a long time ago.

This industrial,
Jazzy assembly of expansive gestures,
Welded with bold, elemental characterizations
Of contained images in black delineations,
Has its own terms of endearment
And basic views of monumentality.
A large foreground with a generous curvature, a horizon in some,
Is either a jocular bloodbath or
An alluring homoerotic pas de deux
In between agony and ecstasy.

Foreshortened nudes, seen from front and back, are left dead
Through night and day. Hovering bird, clapping its wings,
Frozen in her countenance before declaring things are strange.

Carroll Dunham, Left for Dead (3), 2017–2018. Urethane, acrylic and pencil on linen, 52 × 46 inches. © Carroll Dunham. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.

Contributor

Phong Bui

PHONG BUI is the Publisher and Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Rail.

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