Writing Archive

Chuck Webster: Pilgrims: Drawings 2017-2018 - Steven Zevitas Gallery

DigBoston, May 10, 2018 (read there)

The naivete in Chuck Webster's work is misleading. What looks like pan watercolors and marker doodles on sheets of bond is shellac-based inks on vintage paper. The noodly line work comes from the hand of a National Academy Affiliated Fellow who went from a residency at the MacDowell Colony to another at the American Academy in Rome. Hilton Kramer's remark about Philip Guston as a mandarin pretending to be a stumblebum comes to mind.

That said, Guston was on to something and so is Webster. Seussian landscapes featuring bizarre hill towns and citadels have newly emerged in his images. Mallets walk about them, their shafts bending and slanting to regard the ground, the sky, and each other.

These are studied attempts to deal with the figure-in-a-landscape aspect of historical Italian painting, even though the palette barely deviates from the color wheel. They would succeed better as oils, and larger. But their necessary component, serious unseriousness, is in place.

Word count: 158

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