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Pink and blue paint on peach canvas

Julian Schnabel, Natural Forms on the Other Side of the Sierra Madres, 2022.
Oil, spray paint, molding paste on velvet,
113 3/4 x 93 1/4 inches.
© Julian Schnabel; Courtesy the artist and Vito Schnabel Gallery.
Photo: Tom Powel Imaging.

Four big paintings, four big aces: a winning hand. Julian Schnabel’s inventive exuberance shows no signs of flagging. Whether harvesting the awnings from the stands of fruit vendors in Troncones, Mexico, where these paintings were made, and transforming the irregular shapes into spectacularly asymmetrical shaped canvases, or, as here, using velvet as his surface, he finds ways to impose his abstract will on whatever medium he chooses. Of course, using velvet, which he’s done on several occasions, is an ironic take on traditional canvas. We automatically think of the garish, grotesque tigers or impossibly buxom nudes usually found at street fairs. Schnabel uses the blurry, matte plane of velvet to emulate an earthy crust. That is, he makes us aware of the surface as an integral part of the picture and not simply as the medium he covers with paint: this is planet Schnabel...

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