David Scher

New York

at Pierogi

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David Scherâ??s impulse to draw seems to be as essential to him as breathing. The New York-based artistâ??s latest solo exhibition at Pierogi, titled â??regular is best,â? comprised several dozen works of various sizes, including paintings on canvas or linen, and drawings in ink and mixed mediums on paper or cardboard. All feature the loosely rendered vignettesâ??human figures, domestic objects, ships, animals and other subjects, many resembling elaborate doodlesâ??that have become the hallmarks of Scherâ??s art. Some of the canvases boast copious brushwork that, in its obsessive, even impassioned application, relates to the mark-making in his drawings.

Scher never attended art school, though his work is not in the tradition of self-taught artists who operate apart from the cultural mainstream. Filtered through his images are allusions to earlier art and techniques: Watteauâ??s figure studies in chalk, van Goghâ??s cake-frosting-thick strokes, R. Crumbâ??s funky portraiture or Picassoâ??s bravura use of a single line to convey all the strength of a bull or emotion of a face.

In one untitled, oil-on-linen painting (all works 2009 or â??10), a man is seated behind a broad table that surges up and forward, creating a stagelike space teeming with abstract strokes andâ??emerging from and receding into this fogâ??a fish, vase, wine bottle, pieces of fruit and countless, random-looking patches of color. Another painting (oil and acrylic on canvas) in a horizontal format features a darkly colored dreamscape in which a big rock seems to rise out of a river, while skeletons, faces, trees and shacklike structures line the shores like shadows in a mist. A large (over 6½ feet tall), vertical-format, mixed-medium work on paper offers many strata of collaged paper, cardboard and canvas, each bearing imagesâ??brown blobs, a man pushing a shopping cart, an eyeball. A maelstrom of painterly gestures conveys compelling, if uncertain, emotion.

With his latest â??simple compositions,â? as he calls them, Scher provided ample evidence that his pictures remain, as he once noted, complex enough to make an exact reading of any one of his images impossible.

Photo: David Scher: Untitled, 2010, oil on linen, 60 by 84 inches; at Pierogi.