New City review by Monica Westin

April 20, 2009

Consumers are the new criminals: a trope that was always overdetermined and simplistic, and that by now feels worn out and somewhat outdated given the new batch of financier sinners we’re scapegoating these days. In fact, the current economic shipwreck makes environmentalist finger-pointing seem almost nostalgic, as Nicole Gordon’s show at Linda Warren Gallery illustrates. Gordon’s paintings, with obvious influences from Northern Renaissance painters Bruegel and Hieronymus Bosch to William Blake, are simultaneously religious and carnivalesque, each one illuminating one of the seven deadly sins as acted upon the planet. Gordon considers each sin from a purely environmental perspective, where, for example, gluttony is imagined as an apocalyptic oil-drilling scene, and envy as a surrealist diamond mine. The connection is hardly new, and the show doesn’t leave very much up to the analysis of the viewer in terms of theme or intellectual challenge. The paintings turn out to be most interesting in their hybrid style, which comprises a striking combination of quasi-realistic backgrounds and cartoon-like, overtly artificial foregrounded figures. This kind of visual mash-up seems to offer much more insight into the way we experience the world now—perhaps a comment on the simulacric way we interact with the natural environment (when we do so at all), where specific fictions have allowed such eco-holocausts to take place. However, the images themselves, from animals in gas masks to a childish depiction of a man being sodomized by a gas line, seem overly simplistic, and it’s hard to know how we’re to take the final image, “The Culmination,” which depicts a literal apocalypse, complete with a nuclear cloud in the distance; the artist statement claims these paintings reflect hope and a possibility for change, but other than the ambivalent style, the work itself shows the frustrating lack of complexity that underlies all propaganda, eco-friendly or otherwise. (Monica Westin) - See more at: