“The Greatest Show on Earth”
New York, 545 West 20th Street
The exhibition will be the first in-depth showing of the artist’s work from the 1980s and 1990s. Long considered an overlooked era in Drexler’s oeuvre, this time period was one of significant maturation, outside of the artist’s storied work of the 1960s.
In these paintings, Drexler takes a magnifying glass to the human condition. Touching on some favorite themes—most notably, medleys of love and violence—her narratives appear open-ended and surreal. Multiple characters enter these compositions, filling out the negative space she once carefully cherished. Moving away from simple pairings of couples scuffling about, Drexler captures increasingly complex scenes.
Appropriating imagery from popular journals and other printed matter, Drexler transforms otherwise prosaic images by adding bright pigments and creating new contexts. Cutting reproductions from magazines, Drexler fixes her strategically selected images to canvas and overpaints the resulting collage, thereby eliminating the visual trace of the underlying, mechanically reproduced images.
One of the more significant works, Woman Sawed in Half (1989) captures the complexity of the artist’s mind and her natural inclination toward storytelling, which is unsurprising given her decorated career as both playwright and novelist. Here, the painting’s title and subject matter paint a clear picture of the narrative arc that is about to unfold. Like a movie still, the action is suspended in time–not quite pre-sawing nor post-sawing. Yet, ultimately, the outcome remains a mystery. Drexler leaves it to the viewer to decide.