English Kills’s new exhibition features fourteen dazzling, floor-to-ceiling paintings based on images of porn that artist Jim Herbert culled from the internet. Herbert, who studied with Abstract Expressionist painter Clyfford Still, says it’s mix and match with a lot of changes and edits, a figure from this added to that. “A lot is made up in process,” he reports. Thickly painted in acrylics applied directly with his fingers, Herbert’s orgasmic, painterly brio recalls Chaim Soutine and Georg Baselitz. Looking at the paintings, which feature teenagers having sex in quotidian domestic settings or en plein air, the viewer is compelled to ask whether the process, which breaks down the barrier between seeing and touching, is an erotic experience for the seventy-something artist. “No, because the narrow utility of porn’s attraction gives way to the whirling dervish of making – an entirely different kind of focus and excitement,” Herbert says. “Art making can be a sensual, playful experience – but with the possibility of a wreck on every turn. Both hands on the wheel please.”
“Jim Herbert: New Paintings,” English Kills, Brooklyn, NY. Through Oct. 24, 2010.