In our project space, DC Moore Gallery is pleased to present Alexi Worth’s most recent paintings. Show of Hands is a group of nearly monochromatic, up-close images that revisit the artist’s earlier themes in a new, distinctively reinvented pictorial language. Abandoning oil paint in favor of sprayed pigment, Worth has created an idiom of stenciled, layered shapes where the effects of frontal lighting are exaggerated and transformed. Reminiscent at times of photo-collage, 3-D animation, and cartooning, the new images are literally drawn from everyday life: people smoking, drinking, stacking fruit or crushing paper. From these modest situations, Worth makes images that are at once graphic and intricate, antipainterly but insistently handmade.
In the studio, Worth overdraws motifs on layers of tracing paper, trashing many dozens of intermediate drawings along the way. These lost sheets were the inspiration for several of the new paintings, which feature fingertips sinking into a crumpled sheet of paper—an emblem of dissatisfaction, of failure, of starting over.
Here, as in many of Worth’s paintings, the vividness of the images depends partly on a fiction of physical nearness: the large cropped fingers (and looming foreground shadows) are implicitly our own. We view them, not as massed spectators looking at a stage, but as individuals facing palpable things, graspable things. That suggests a kind of literalism, but in fact, Worth’s new images are more anti-literal, more rhetorical and playful than ever before. In these paintings, the stuff at your fingertips is no less puzzling and insubstantial for being right here, right in front of your eyes.
Alexi Worth, whom Roberta Smith singled out last year in an article about painting’s continued vitality (“Realism With Benefits,” March 26, 2010), has been showing in New York since 2000. This winter, a selection of new larger works will be featured in “Open Windows,” curated by Carroll Dunham at the Addison Gallery of Art.