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Photo Credit :: MRNY
Arts & Entertainment
Betty Tompkins :: New Work
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
April 25 - June 9, 2009   photo-album 
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Way back in the early Seventies, before the decade became forever associated with licentious decadence, French customs officials detained several large scale photorealist paintings of sexual congress by American artist Betty Tompkins and denied them entrance into France.  Those prudish French!  Ah, mais la justice, c’est douce: for in 2003, the Centre Pompidou in Paris acquired one of those detained paintings titled Fuck Painting #1.  And now Tompkins has a new show of new work (at the Mitchell Algus Gallery through 6 June 2009), some acrylic on canvas, some pencil on paper, some as small as 14 inches and some as large as seven feet by six feet—and all of them depicting (gasp!) sex, with titles such as Blow Job Grid #4 and Girl on Girl Painting #2.  In previous work, Tompkins has utilized rubber stamps and fingerprints to help create the high-resolution quality of her canvases.  The newest pieces in Tompkins’ impressive oeuvre incorporate spray paint to achieve an almost-Impressionistic gauzy effect that belies their incendiary subject matter.  With their microscopic-like scrutiny of genitalia and penetration, Tompkins’ paintings provoke and titillate (hang them in the bedroom for maximum libidinous effect) while reminding viewers anew of society’s fetishistic reverence granted one area of skin above all other.