Andrew Lenaghan at George Adams Gallery

Andrew Lenaghan, New Stadium, Atlantic Avenue (2011), oil on panel, 24″ x 32″; courtesy George Adams Gallery

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While looking at Andrew Lenaghan’s paintings at George Adams Gallery, I overhead a visitor exclaim, “New York has never looked so lovely.”

Really? There’s much to commend in the work, not least its crisp light and keen sense of place. But “lovely”? That’s such a mild adjective for pictures whose verisimilitude is inseparable from a pointed and, at moments, bristly animism.

Lenaghan has long been drawn to areas of Brooklyn that, when not mundane, are distinctly unlovely—a graffiti-laden building in Greenpoint, anonymous industrial structures in Williamsburg and the stained and mottled roadway bordering the Bedford Avenue Armory. Family is also a mainstay—in one painting, children watch Dora the Explorer; in another, a woman stands by the mirror in an unkempt bedroom. Geometry, as it informs the city’s infrastructure, our homes and backyards, is important, too.

Andrew Lenaghan, Sarah and Charlie Upstairs (2011), oil on panel, 24″ x 32″; courtesy George Adams Gallery

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In their details, the picturesque and domestic are rendered with a skittering line that accumulates—sometimes tenuously, always convincingly—into solid form. The cobblestone walkway at the bottom right of New Stadium, Atlantic Avenue (2011) is a particularly telling marker of Lenaghan’s pictorial abilities; the way in which arrant mark-making and fidelity to observation are navigated is emblematic of his bracing and flinty intellect.

© 2012 Mario Naves

Originally published in the February 8, 2012 edition of City Arts.

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