Figures emerge from the thick of it. That is what I see in David Stern’s art—and that is why I think of him as a painter not just for the end of the twentieth century, but for the beginning of the twenty-first. Here is a painter who ventures to draw out the human form after a very antihuman age. His purposes—as anyone can see—are not those of a draughtsman; he doesn’t give us simple lines or sharply etched faces. Modern times haven’t been marked like that. Nor is Stern’s cosmos. Instead, there is a thickness of agitation; the canvas almost becomes an energized relief, moving toward us. Individuals materialize from surfaces that just could not be flat.
Faces emerge in the thick of things. Human form, i...
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