Salon 94 Freemans, New York, USA
Carter produced a brilliant and original body of paintings around 2006–7 – not to mention the sculptures, videos and photographs – most of which pondered fragile feelings of selfhood. The paintings rely on collage to arrange a series of motifs – craggy profiles of heads, scatterings of real hair, isolated gestural brushstrokes – in shallow fields. There are often suggestions of rocks and trees in the mix, but otherwise these works dispense with backdrops.
Carter’s current exhibition features only one sculpture, Likeness (all works 2009), a glossy black bust of a man with frightened white eyes, standing on a plinth next to flickering electric candles. Paintings predominate, and it is as if the fog of motifs from the earlier work has finally dispersed and the backdrops have come into view. A few brushstrokes, illegible notations and fragmentary sketches still move over the surface, but like dead cells moving about the eye. The grounds are now supplied by grainy, black and white laser-printed photographs. Some pictures, like the show’s two title pieces (And Within Area One and Two), depict period domestic interiors in which sleek Modernist furnishings act as foil to older, more florid ornaments. The Past 100 Years features two portraits: a smaller one of a man, and a much larger one that might be the same man evolved into a woman. And Item Placed in area (Unfolding Abstract Modern Sculpture), evokes personal trauma via the history of art, depicting a biomorphic stone sculpture bearing lumpy organic contours, like some violent, muscular animal turned in on itself.
These could all be moments and backdrops from the era of psychoanalysis: Carter sees the Id being confronted head-on in Modernist sculpture, sees it barely repressed in polite interiors, sees it exploding forth in cross-dressing. The great period of shrinking may be behind us now, and Carter’s evocation of it may draw more than it should from nostalgia, but the surface noise on the canvases is still marvellously evocative of the waste blown up from that psychic dust storm.
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