Romanian artist Adrian Ghenie applies an unusual moniker to the venerated figures of the Impressionist and post-Impressionist canon: “hooligans.” Though now accepted as geniuses, Ghenie contends that these figures—Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso among them—were radicals in their time, overturning the Romantic notion of perception to argue for vision as both rooted in a shared bodily experience and also as entirely subjective.
That rejection of traditionalism continues to be necessary in art today—which might explain throwing a cowboy hat on Gauguin (Gauguin with Cowboy Hat [pictured]). In Ghenie’s fourth solo show with Pace, a dozen layered, moody, and gritty canvases and studies made in the past year give way to abstracted limbs, profiles, and extremities. Like those before him, Ghenie explores the field of visual perception in a contemporary context, and probes the relationships between art, history, perception, and technology, particularly that between painting and film.
Adrian Ghenie, Gauguin with Cowboy Hat, 2020. Oil on canvas, 39-3/8 × 27-9/16 inches. © Adrian Ghenie.