This Week in Sexy, Gross Chelsea

"Simon and Anh," 2003

This Week in Chelsea’s Sexiest

Eric Fischl knows how to paint people like they’ve been photographed with bad lighting. This works for Fischl because his imperfections create a type of dignity that’s needed in these otherwise awkward situations. His portraits, currently on view at both Mary Boone locations, are fun ways to test your art world trivia skills: all the paintings refer to the sitters on a first name basis. If you don’t know who Simon is, you’ll miss out on the joke.

This Week in Chelsea’s Grossest

"Batman Returns" installation view

Joyce Pensato’s show at Frederich Petzel is a mess. The gallery was transformed into a studio space, full of half-finished canvases and ravaged stuffed animals. It’s like a bratty child artist started painting in the space and then gave up, tortured by fits of neurotic rage. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a doll torched on a stick, like in James Franco’s 2011 exhibition at Peres Projects, or any number of YouTube videos focused on teen angst. Unlike Mike Kelley’s orderly use of stuffed animals as specimens, clinically arranged on tables, this is just a clusterfuck, an exercise in chaos. In the gallery, I saw a dog chewing on one of Pensato’s Elmo dolls, covering it in slobber. This seemed fitting for such a piece of junk.

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