Les Rogers: Leo Koenig, Inc
Pasquariello, Lisa, Artforum International
What happens to the artist-model relationship when the model isn’t there? The subject of seven new works by Les Rogers is a photogenic eighteen-year-old girl from Austin, Texas, named Lindsey, who Rogers did not meet until after the portraits were complete. He made her acquaintance through the networking website MySpace and painted from the photographs she posted there. One does wonder what a man pushing forty was doing on a website whose average user is two decades younger, but this electronic connection yielded no Law and Order fodder–just a suite of large, whimsically decent paintings.
The stylistic divagation that has marked Rogers’s previous work persisted at Leo Koenig, Inc., with Lindsey pictured in various grades of Photorealist coherence and neo-expressionist abstraction. In some works her digital self-portraits seem to have been transposed more or less directly, while in others the artist departs from his model in delirious flights of nonrepresentational fancy. Picasso is the not-so-hidden influence here–he’s mentioned in the first sentence of the press release, and the violin neck and cleaved head in The Secret Goldfish, 2006, are too imitative to be construed as anything other than flattery–but Rogers has also cribbed liberally from Willem de Kooning, both early (disembodied facial features) and late (lithe painterly swoops), as well as Sigmar Polke (patterned overlays) and Alex Katz (broad planes of flesh). This formal mishmash nicely suits the upheavals of adolescent subjectivity, and Rogers’s shifts keep pace with Lindsey’s self-conscious self-fashioning. Her doe-eyed vacancy is the only constant here, as she dons a succession of track jackets and ironic T-shirts and experiments with different looks for her calculatedly messy hair. …