David Brody reviews the exhibition Matthew Blackwell: Picklelilly at Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, on view through November 30, 2013.
Brody writes: "As with James Ensor’s or Max Beckmann’s demented crowd scenes, Blackwell’s figures are both fantastic projections of psychic roles and notes on everyday weirdness. The sturdy hitchhiker in Here?, (2011) shoulders a tangled burden. Blackwell paints the wide open spaces around her with an evident appreciation for airy American abstraction… Against this tastefulness, however, Blackwell pitches the raw, visionary color of Emil Nolde, as well as a scrawly, scribbly impatient expressionism of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, particularly as this latter plays out in the less conventionally slick sort of cartoon –– from Peanuts to Beavis and Butthead, from Peter Arno to Ralph Steadman. Blackwell’s hitchhiker’s overhead burden even seems to contain –– barely, like a tussling fight cloud –– the sort of graphic slings and arrows that stand for curse words in the funnies. Digging into these used-up punchlines, he recycles them into a rich clump of pure painting."