Peter Saul, Neighborhood Gossip (2020)
By Gabrielle Angeletti, Wallace Ludel, and Nancy Kenney
Peter Saul: New Paintings
Until 26 June at Venus Over Manhattan, 120 East 65th Street, and Michael Werner, 4 East 77th Street #2, Manhattan
In a two-part exhibition that comes on the heels of his New Museum retrospective, painter Peter Saul (now in his mid-80s) debuts 17 new paintings made between 2019 and 2021. Though billed as somewhat less overtly political than much of his work—Saul has spent a lifetime using absurdism to explore politics in his paintings, and his canvases have been home to highly stylized likenesses of nearly every American president since Nixon—these works are hardly neutral. In them, Saul uses his instantly-recognizable style, which fuses movements including Surrealism, Pop, the Bay Area’s Funk Art, and Chicago’s Hairy Who, into something that belongs to Saul alone, to explore themes of climate change, the pitfalls of capitalism, art history, and the foibles of identity. Landing somewhere between Social Realism and MAD Magazine, it’s safe to say that Saul is a master at this point.