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Gary Panter at Fredericks & Freiser in ArtNews

By: Christopher French


Gary Panter's far-ranging output includes paintngs, graphic novels, record-cover designs, and sets for Pee-Wee's Playhouse. The dark humr that pervades his esthetic was abundantly evident in these 17 moderate-sized paintings.


In keeping with Panter's punk roots, the imagery in this show "Dream Town" was dystopian, encompassing abandonment, combat, and monsters. The raucous, high-key color ground of July (2013) functions like a retinal Rorschach test, its electric-orange field influencing our perceptions of blue-toned rafters paddling away. Works like Fog (2013) and Fogger (2014) are less descriptive yet more complicated, their imagery compounded by color cominations that read like Josef Alber's Interaction of Color on acid. 

Pigboat (2013) , Allotted Section (2013), and Animal World (2014) push color and gesture, layering naturalistc hues over incandescent grounds. Animal World's blue-skinned dinosaur confronts his hman prey in an abstract atmosphere of swirling brown and mauve brushstrokes, while the swimmers in Allotted Section struggle to stay afloat in a luminous expanse of green that is rudely interrupted by an encircig gash of red. In Pigboat, Panter's layerings transform a war-moviescene into a luminous update of a Bonnard interior, generating intimacy through color combinations that are as imaginative as they are expressive