Review: Doug Wada, "Americana"

The painter evokes a heartland of darkness.

0

Comments

Add +
  • Courtesy Marlborough Gallery New York

    Doug Wada, Bicentennial

  • Courtesy Marlborough Gallery New York

    Doug Wada, Election

  • Courtesy Marlborough Gallery New York

    Doug Wada, Fountain

  • Courtesy Marlborough Gallery New York

    Doug Wada, Poles

  • Courtesy Marlborough Gallery New York

    Doug Wada, Coleman

  • Courtesy Marlborough Gallery New York

    Doug Wada, Super

  • Courtesy Marlborough Gallery New York

    Doug Wada, Holiday

  • Courtesy Marlborough Gallery New York

    Doug Wada, Normandie

Courtesy Marlborough Gallery New York

Doug Wada, Bicentennial

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Just in time for Republican primary season, painter Doug Wada trades in his usual deadpan portrayals of urban flotsam for retro objects that seem largely emblematic of small-town America in bygone years. A row of lunch-counter stools, a selection of vintage ice chests (perfect for picnics or tailgating) and a water fountain with vaguely unsettling acidic yellow highlights conjure mythic spaces of communal conversation, an informal town hall. Yet halcyon days have not necessarily come to Main Street.

In this context, the lunch counters and water fountains resonate as contested sites of the Civil Rights movement. A line of metallic, bullet-shaped hair dryers recall the militaristic associations of the one in James Rosenquist's Vietnam-era Pop Art masterpiece F-111. And the chrome ends of stubby barbershop poles—striped in red, white and blue—reflect green and gray verticals that suggest a tranquil tree-lined street, though some kind of debris ominously litters the ground.

With Wada, how he paints is always as important as what he depicts. The artist limns things in an earnestly Photorealist manner, head-on, at actual size, and tightly framed on otherwise empty white backgrounds. The results appear a bit stiff and awkward, but also include buttery passages of affecting beauty. The battered aluminum lower halves of a pair of gas pumps labeled SUPER and UNLEADED distortedly mirror the blacktop in front of them; glints of orange might represent fallen autumn leaves. These paintings within paintings evoke both Monet's Water Lilies and Gerhard Richter's abstractions—darkling, moody and gorgeous.

See more Art reviews

Users say

0 comments