Howard Hurst reviews Joyce Pensato: Castaway at Petzel Gallery, New York, on view through March 28, 2015.
Hurst writes: "The first thing one notices about the paintings on display is the immediacy with which they are painted. There is a dark, brooding feeling of aggression that pulls itself across the surfaces of the 9 large paintings that decorate Pretzel’s main gallery space. The sense of storm and stress that pervades this room is almost physically present. Though each of the bizarre cartoons, leering manically from their various positions on the wall, has a clear sense of personality, the material sense of paint overwhelms the figurative depictions beneath. Pensato’s 'Castaway Mickey' grins eerily at visitors, emanating a totally unsettling but unavoidably charismatic vibe. While it might be easy to start to imagine the fucked-up inner thoughts of this would-be character, the violent, almost performative gusto with which this painting was made tends to wrench you out of that sort of reverie. It is this tension between the subject matter and materiality that lends these works their indecipherable, mysterious quality."