Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out Juxtaposing work from the two extreme ends of the painterly impulse — bombastic figuration and hyperminimalist abstraction — this group show attempts to uncover the medium's fundamental common ground (if it's out there). Team Figuration consists of esteemed mid-careerists Ashley Bickerton, Carroll Dunham, Joyce Pensato and Peter Saul; Team Abstraction includes up-and-comers Markus Amm, Julia Rommel, Joshua Smith and Ryan Sullivan. The exhibit provokes rigorous sleuthing, its premise drawing you into close scrutiny of each work's surface in search of its ur-painterly strain: the topographic layers and reticulation in Sullivan's lunar color fields; the thick brushstrokes and torn scraps of sandpaper articulating Dunham's mystery vulva/anus; the coral-like holes and ridges in Bickerton's grotesque consumer fantasia; the delicate canvas folds in Rommel's elegant, witty small works. The cosmic implication of the show's title (a quote from jazz composer Sun Ra) — suggests a quasi-spiritual thread as art's all-purpose binder. That is, everything and nothing is proposed here: from sex to greed to ogling self-scrutiny to contemplation of the universe to the most Zen-like restraint — meaning, at the very least, that painting can handle such a load, and then some. Also showing: Elaine Cameron-Weir's arrow-like sculpture and suite of stitched and marbled canvases tailored to gold curtain-rod frames are gently poised counterparts to the main-floor exhibition. Through March 2 at White Flag Projects, 4568 Manchester Avenue; 314-531-3442 or www.whiteflagprojects.org. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Tue.-Sat.
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