Friday, May 07, 2010

Gallery Hopping: Nic*Rad, PeopleMatter at the Rare Gallery

Last night I visited Nic*Rad's PeopleMatter exhibition at Rare gallery. The New York Academy of Art grad seems to be making a name for himself. I'm not quite sure what to make of him, though. Is his art in the pursuit of something permanent, or is it simply a means to gain him entry into an exclusive media room? Although Nic*Rad seems nice enough upon meeting, there is a strong air of social mountaineering that surrounds him. It is, we cannot fail to note, a thin, Alpine air. If he put as much intention into his artwork as he puts into the starfucking, people might begin to take him seriously. And in the process he would gain access into those glamorous rooms.

What about the art? This is probably the fullest accounting online of what it is that Nic Rad does. Most other profiles skirt the issue, focusing instead on how many people showed and what boldfacers -- or semi-boldfacers -- are in attendance. One can see the influences of R. Crumb in his work, there is an almost cartoonish quality to his renderings of media personalities. They almost look to be illustrations of a feature piece in The Observer. The portraits are vary in size, some quite small, others -- like the exceptional red Pope -- large, featuring ferocious brushwork. But then, who is a bigger star than the Pope?

Still, the evening was enjoyable. Nicole Atkins played a wonderful set with a nice mix of "songs that make you want to kill yourself," and, of course, more upbeat numbers. The acoustics of the gallery lent themselves to her magnificent, you-have-to-hear-it voice. Last week at the same gallery starring the same painter, Rad was the giving away of portraits he's made of media types -- bloggers, writers, talking heads. Many of the people he painted showed up. Said TheAwl of the event:

Paintings taken from the wall were replaced by a Polaroid of the recipient holding their new souvenir. Richard Blakeley was taping the whole thing. Dennis Crowley was there to pick up his painting of Rex. He also posed incognito as Jason Kottke to get someone else’s portrait. There was a lot of that going on.

It all seems very "meta." Clever, but also gimmicky. Synthetic. Then again, if Nic*Rad fancies himself the chronicler of the age of social media, perhaps a certain shallowness is acceptable. Absent in all this, however, is a discussion of the Art. Why is that? Why, in all the discussion of Nic*Rad is there a lack of discussion about the level of skill he brings to his paintings? Isn't that where the focus ought to lie? Is that where Nic*Rad specifically doesn't want the focus to be? So many questions; so few answers.

I didn't really recognize anyone last week other than the screenwriter Olga Humphrey, who, mirabile dictu, called me "intense (compared to whom, Olga darling?)." I also just missed meeting the awesome Martha Burzynski, who tweets with fire. Apparently, tonight at 7-9 at something called "The Nick Rad Loft" is what Topher Burns calls a "fellatio party" -- wtf? -- or, to be exact, “Mostly people sitting around telling dick jokes.” Hmm.

I'll be at the New York Gallery Week Opening Night Reception.

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