Alexi Worth: Couples
September 7 – October 7, 2006
Couples, Alexi Worth's second one-person show at the gallery, features a dozen paintings depicting men and women looking at mirrors, monitors, magazines, and each other. Often one of those characters is offstage, but implicit -- present as a cast shadow, for instance. In several paintings, the second character in the suggested micro-romance is the viewer: you.
Both comical and somber, the new paintings embody Worth’s preoccupations with narrative, with cartooning and caricature, and increasingly, with photography. Several of the new paintings were made under what Worth calls "an obtuse, slowed down version of photographic flash." Worth placed bright photo-studio lights directly behind him, so that his models’ bodies were brightly lit, but their faces eclipsed by the artist’s own shadow.
Art historian Svetlana Alpers comments, "Alexi Worth is a terrific image-maker. His paintings stick in the mind. What you remember, however, is not quite what you get. For all the smoothness of surface, clarity of outlines and elegance of design, Worth doesn¹t make it easy to grasp what is going on. Much of the interest lies in the puzzling nature of what you are given to see. And that springs from a heightened and quirky sense of relationships -- between things, between people, between the artist, his tradition, and himself."
About his previous exhibition with DC Moore in 2004, a reviewer wrote that Worth "forfeits" his claim to:
"the attention reserved for activities inhabiting a moral and intellectual dimension. Either we can make adult demands on art or we cannot. This work tries to have it both ways."
In his new paintings, Worth continues his misguided efforts to have it both ways: to be a storyteller and a formalist, a photographer and a cartoonist, an observer and a participant, a simplifier and a nuance-maven.