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wrote a nice review of an Albert Oehlen
show a few years back for an art mag called Review
. Quite unlike Oehlen's multilayered, idiosyncratic work, the paintings Mumford was exhibiting at the time--thickly-brushed renderings of classic American automobiles--were blandly illustrational. The drawings he's sending back from Iraq, part of his Baghdad Journal
on artnet, continue the tradition: they are as lifeless as courtroom sketches. A bunch of these sepia-toned watercolors are on exhibit at Postmasters right now, and based on what's been shown on artnet, one could be forgiven for not making the hike to Chelsea. Being able to draw is cool but art isn't just observation. At some point anger or joy or sorrow--or an idea--should travel from your insides to your arm to the page. Mumford's losing energy somewhere along this drive train. Or maybe it's not there to begin with. Anyway, those pictures are dead, people. I'll stick to reports from Robert Fisk and photos from the foreign press--I don't need to see the Art Students' League turning the slaughterhouse into tastefully smeared contour studies.