Couples, DC Moore Gallery
The quirky realism, deliberate surfaces and modulated colors of Alexi Worth's new canvases indicate an attention to ultra-conscious abstract painting (Myron Stout's for example) balanced by admiration for Magritte and the smooth, sculptural claymation figures in the “Toy Story” and “Wallace and Gromit” films. His human (all too human) subjects don't stop Mr. Worth from making various formal points.
In three paintings, for example, the image is dominated by a large, fleshy orb whose insistent geometry is slightly in advance of its representational function; it belongs to a very bald man who is burying his face in the shoulder of a woman whose only other attribute is a more or less flat plane of wavy, dark hair. Whether the cause is grief, shyness, exhaustion or abject remorse doesn't matter; despite the formal dominance, it is quite a mixed metaphor for masculine exposure and vulnerability.
Sometimes the images are a little too cutely Disney, or Pixar, for their own good, as with “Tripleclicker,” an image of a preadolescent girl whose slumped posture and glazed expression suggest that the viewer is located somewhere on the screen of her computer. The trickiness thickens further in several works involving models and the artist's shadow, and in “Rag and Palette,” in which a frail painter sits before a young Amazon that you soon realize is a painting.
“Enabler,” a seated man with a camera fixed, Cyclops-like, to his face and pointed directly at us, might almost be Wallace himself, trying out a new toy that Gromit has undoubtedly purchased for him. Still, the symmetrical rhythms of his shirt, trousers and chair and the spongy fatness of his fingers have a nice insistence about them, as does the creamy surface.
Sometimes a painting's main trick is the simplicity with which it achieves its formal impact. This happens in the black circle of “Lenscap,” pushed forward for our perusal by more fat, pink fingers until it nearly fills the picture plane. Even better is “Double Sip,” where a relationship is glimpsed through the concentric circles of two raised wine glasses interrupted by a few fingers, from the vantage point of one of the sippers.