Author: Janine Gordon --- Date: 10/27/95--- Copyright: ThingReviews NYC

Chuck Agro
Edward Thorp Gallery, NYC
103 Prince Street, 2nd floor
Thru Nov. 11

Chuck Agro presents his paintings of enamel , plaster and resin on wood with a broad variety of themes and narratives. The images used in the paintings range from all genres: landscapes, abstract, portraits, installations, and a newer claim to actualizing his cartoon lands. . . sculpture (or sculpture according to Agro, which is painting on a three dimensional surface).

Resonating an indulgence of high glossy surfaces, Agro uses the "shine" to separate the paint from its surface. The use of the paintings veneer is not unlike Formica, simulating a plasticity, possibly implying a cultural critique about the way we see images, about how information may be relayed. Through the screen-like surfaces, images of fantasy and reality are painted in a pleasantly sardonic comic-like sensibility. Agro uses himself as the narrator and the characters.

"A Little Humanity" is the smallest and most successful painting in this show. Not only is the idea of the "artist as hero" diminished because of its downscaling, the simplicity of a cute and cuddly bear who looks lonely yet approachable evokes more emotions, probably because it is not a cartoon of a human situated in a narration. Directly juxtaposing the bear, "The Worst Day of My Life" is a complex of 24 some odd paintings. They consist of pirate and pirate-likes (portraits with eye patches), with the added delight of plaster eyeballs in a basket, insinuating that the case of the missing eyeballs has been solved. A funny attempt at memorializing body parts, portraits among other odds and ends, "The Worst Day of My Life" ambitiously tackles formalistic problems painters have pondered such as how one can install a painting in many parts-salon style-and the use of sculpture to enhance the paintings. The failure of this piece is the complexity of its own self-parody which tries too hard at being something more than what it is suppose to be. . .painting.

On a different note, the newer works of Agro have seemingly transformed with the disappearance of any verifiable imagery. Utilizing a kind of abstracted form, which resembles a Disney or Dr. Seuss kidney on stilts, the quirkiness of Agro's portraits are presented in a clear reductive form. Each of the five paintings assumes an oversimplified sarcastic emotion: euphoria, loneliness, love, sadness and explosiveness. But, in this realm of simplicity, Agro's humor and vision flourish.

--Janine Gordon

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