Marco Rios Corrupts A Five-Year-Old

THE DAILY PIC: The artist "collaborates" with the expressionist he was in preschool.


On Saturday, Marco Rios opened “S is for Sincere, Formerly Formally F is for Fake”, his new show at Simon Preston Gallery in New York. All the canvases from that show, including this one (“#5”), present details of abstractions that Rios made when he was a preschooler, now enlarged to wall-size with an overhead projector. (Although that description of them as “abstractions” begs the question of whether a small child’s picture can ever be classed as either abstract or not, given their maker’s lack of knowledge of the distinction or its history.) Rios talks about the new paintings as collaborations between his younger and current selves, which is a nice idea. They are also appropriations of the former’s art by the latter. That lines them up with the art world’s new-old obsession with outsider art, an obsession that usually turns out to be painfully naïve: Artists and curators present outsider works as objets trouvés, like seashells in a collage, without even realizing it or worrying about it. Rios’s works, however, are as much about undermining that obsession and naiveté as playing to it. His “expressive” “raw” canvases are in fact immaculately painted and stretched–as tidy and meticulous, inexpressive and unspontaneous, as could be. Today’s Daily Pic goes so far as to include glimpses of the black tape that held Rios’s childhood work down on his projector’s glass, the kind of visual incident that brings the whole project more into line with photography than with traditional painting. In his excellent press release for the Preston show, Rios describes his childhood works as presenting “uncorrupted self-expression, which would be impossible now.” I’m glad to say that, in “collaborating” with little Master Rios on these paintings, big Mister Rios is corrupting his own youth.

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