This rollicking 20-artist affair is leading the race for feel-good group show of the season. At the curatorial helm is the master of libidinal, cacophonous Pop painting, Peter Saul, who is responsible for some of postwar America’s most incisive, outrageous pictures. Eighty this year, he’s curating for the first time and has tapped artists young and old, nonchalantly admitting in a short essay what is true of so many group shows: he just picked his friends, even if a few he only “met once for a few minutes and seemed friendly enough.”
Some are his contemporaries, like Chicago Imagist Karl Wirsum—who’s represented here by a painting, on a shaped panel, of a mustached pale pink man (with some strangely insect-like features) flying over a rainbow—and the Cuban-American Luis Cruz Azaceta, whose 1978 drawing shows a frightening cartoon murder. Mr. Saul’s wife, Sally Saul, and the redoubtable Polly Apfelbaum, offer up some charmingly loose ceramics, respectively a wily little vase decorated with flowers and a circular plate of colors that looks like a finger painting.
The youthful end of the show is a nice cross-section of superb young artists in the out-there painting tradition, like Gina Beavers (a gloriously gross volumetric painting that shows how to make heart-attack-inducing bacon pancakes), Austin Lee (whose spectral neon stick-figure faces look fresh), Chelsea Seltzer (Rosenquist meets Saturday morning animation), Irena Jurek (ferociously intricate, psychedelic drawings) and Brian Belott (peculiar reverse-glass paintings of word bubbles).
The show, in short, is madcap, electrifying, often perverse or violent, and downright pleasurable—the qualities of any great Saul canvas.
(Through May 3, 2014)