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Nicole Eisenman
at Susanne Vielmetter Projects, Culver City, California
Recommendation by Michael Shaw

The artist as an existential clown is the posture assumed in the current paintings of Nicole Eisenman.

Nicole Eisenman continues to charm with her particular brand of visceral-yet-light-heartedly-whimsical take on the artist as existential clown. The first grouping includes the "Guys," large portraits of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon-inflected faces, each flecked with sideways-aligned smatterings of collaged African masks and sculptures. "Guy Capitalist" adds in a pair of 1972 Eisenhower silver dollars for eyes. The second grouping, which includes "The Drawing Class" and "Séance," has more of a realist bent, albeit an underground comics-inspired, painterly one that only Eisenman has seemed to figure out how to pull off, portraiture that is sophisticated despite its latent horror-show goofiness.  Her take on the "Tea Party," a four-person bunker gathering complete with cans of tuna and the requisite stack of gold bars, is far too much fun, and funny, to be partisan-heavy politicizing. Her final grouping — a body within the body — is her series of kissers. Most of these are the most painterly and expressionistic images in the show. They bring to mind the work of New York artist Dana Schutz. Though she's of a younger generation, one wonders if her work has had an impact on Eisenman.  Perhaps it's just something in the zeitgeist. Or maybe just the springtime air 

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