Leo Koenig Inc is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of recent paintings by artist Peter Saul which will be on view concurrently here and at David Nolan Gallery.
Long known for his acid-hued paintings melding cartoon imagery with biting social and political commentary, Peter Saul has influenced generations of contemporary artists. Coming of age in the 50’s and 60’s, Saul was inspired equally by comic books as he was by surrealists and remained an unrelenting critic of various aspects of American culture. In the 60’s, Peter Saul was associated with a group of imagists in Chicago called the “Hairy Who,” that disavowed the various New York styles or schools of the moment. Instead they focused on the human image, conflated elements of high and low culture, were extremely anti-authoritative and promoted a particularly intense political critique.
The paintings in this exhibition expound on the elements that Saul has utilized in his paintings for 45 years. The works are varied and timely. In one for example, George W. Bush’s head looms, with a slightly maniacal smile, admiring a disfigured and bullet-riddled head as if eyeing a trophy. Entitled “Bush at Abu Ghraib,” one can almost smell the sulfur… “Sardanapalus” relates the story of the Ancient Persian king who according to legend commits suicide and was later decapitated by his body guards in order to more easily strip his corpse of gold and jewels. In Saul’s painting, the king looks eerily like Osama bin Laden and blatantly refers to the dissemination of the loot of war. And Saul doesn’t leave himself out of his acrid pictures. Continuing a practice of depicting male figures with female attributes, in “Portrait of the Artist” as a Woman, Saul takes an experience where he and his wife were mistaken for two women and twists it to a completely absurdist end. While his paintings are visceral, enigmatic and often convey a caustic wit, Saul states simply that he would like to take attention off of a pictures style long enough to be concerned with its image, which he considers more interesting.
Peter Saul has exhibited worldwide in numerous galleries, museums and institutions. Most recently he has had solo exhibitions at Musee Paul Valery, Sete, France, and Musee d’art moderne et contemporain, Geveva, Switzerland. His work was also recently included in “Disparities and Deformities: Our Grotesque,” Site Santa Fe, and “Splat, Boom, Pow,” at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston and the ICA, Boston. Peter Saul lives and works in Germantown New York. A catalogue with an essay by Brooks Adams will accompany the exhibition.