December 4, 2007

Stegner's hot cops at Bellwether

"Jansson Stegner," Bellwether, New York, NY. Through Dec. 22.

In ArtCal Zine, Joshua Johnson reports that Stegner has left behind the brushwork and personal touch seen in his previous work in favor of something more aloof. "Stegner’s subjects, police officers, are portrayed in a mannerist style, lounging in ideal naturalistic settings. That mannerism is one of the first notable features of this work, and its historical pedigree lends his paintings their conceptual heft. The sixteenth century mannerist period dovetails nicely with the current state of the art world in the midst of high American imperialism — the printing press revolutionized media, commerce was expanding on a global scale, and the changing religious environment led to political and cultural strife. Art was changing too; the classical canon was abandoned, and artists began to stress intentional distortions. Arguably, we face a similar situation today in which the modernist canon has been abandoned for post-modern...Stegner’s brush no longer seems to battle with his characters, but historicizes them with a sense of psychological detachment. Throughout the show, Stegner maintains a singular format, his hot cops lounge idyllically, alone, their gaze averted and introspective. These figures betray their humanity and our self-recognition. Looking at these pictures might feel like looking at a display case in the Museum of Natural History: the animal has been stilled in a pose that only mimics the life it once had."

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