The imposing painting Frank und Pflaumi haben einen Traum (Frank and Plfaumi Have a Dream, 2017) greets visitors to Michaela Eichwald’s show. It’s a playful exercise in heraldry, where slapdash execution coyly undermines the monumental scale and aristocratic imagery. Two lions, sketched out in dark gray oils, hold a bulbous shape filled with a jumble of letters (F, K, Q, A, and some indecipherable others). The work is done on a blue-and-white-striped textile with a surface that’s slick, like a cheap tablecloth, and the pattern’s lines show through the thin, liquid patches of paint. The paintings installed beyond Frank und Pflaumi also hint at questions of taste and class through their palettes and materials. The figure in Periodensystem der Elemente: Inner Uebergangsmetalle (The Periodic Table of Elements: Transition Metals, 2017) looks like a bending woman’s ass; the reds and pinks used to depict it stumble over the plastic substrate’s raised grid. Another work is executed on a print patterned after the beige, buttoned pleather of suburban couch upholstery. Eichwald has smeared burnt-umber, rust, mustard, and pink oils on top of it in generous curves and splotches. It’s mounted on a slab of drywall painted a dull shade of teal. “Frank,” the show’s title, variously evokes a hot dog, a working-class guy, an archaic Germanic ethnicity. It also describes Eichwald’s deadpan manner of imposing paints on unwelcoming surfaces and her matter-of-fact presentation of the strikingly unlovely results. —Brian Droitcour
Pictured: View of Michaela Eichwald's exhibition "Frank," 2017, at Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York. Photo Joerg Lohse.