Philip Pearlstein: Just the Facts

Philip Pearlstein, Two Models with Swan Decoy and Carved Garuda Figure, 2013, oi
Philip Pearlstein, Two Models with Swan Decoy and Carved Garuda Figure, 2013, oil on canvas, 72 x 48 inches (courtesy of Betty Cuningham Gallery)

Dennis Kardon reviews the exhibition Philip Pearlstein: Just the Facts: 50 Years of Looking and Drawing and Painting, curated by Robert Storr, at the New York Studio School, on view through February 22, 2014.

Kardon writes: "Any painted representation is a dramatically edited one. Given that even the simplest setting contains an infinite amount of information, a final composition is always a compilation of several vantage points, focal attentiveness, formal decisions, and the elision of time... Pearlstein’s ability and desire to stay absorbed, to inhabit the moment, feels crucial to all of his work. Absorption is the big payoff for most painters. It is a respite from the confusing swirl of troubling thought. And Pearlstein’s absorption is consummate, though the very things he manages to tune out are all still present sub rosa. The implicit anxiety of staying in that moment drives the engine of his work. Thoughts of desire, aging, and mortality can be repressed but are always inherent in the naked young flesh of the bored models that he hires to languish year after year. In order to stay absorbed, he must relate to his subjects only as a problem to be overcome by his control and concentration."