The Commanding, Flamboyant Joyce Pensato

Joyce Pensato, Untitled (at various times, Joyceland and Fuggetabout It!) (2012 – 2019), studio installation materials, dimensions variable (courtesy The Joyce Pensato Estate and Petzel, New York)

Two large paintings on the walls of eyes in this space maintain a watchful presence. More “eyeball” paintings in different configurations — peering from the dark, casting tremulous sidelong glances — are in the next room. All are based on the bulging, excessive, and expressive eyes of Pensato’s favored characters, now amped up to whopping proportions. 

The full range of Pensato’s combinatory and idiosyncratic approach is on display in these paintings, which freely meld representation and abstraction: sweeping AbEx gestures, near-monochromatic expanses, rudimentary geometric forms, drips, smears, multiple layers, erasures that leave faint traces of tiny, abstract marks. All of these eyes, most shedding drips, are supremely evocative.

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