A striped woolen scarf, a pair of oversized hush puppies and some beat-up trousers, each drawn in the deliberately crude style of an underground comic strip, are all stand-ins for the artist in Phillip Guston's confessional self-portrait Studio Corner, on view at Goya Contemporary gallery's summer group show, called Shine On.
During the 1950s, Guston (1913-1980) was a leading abstract-expressionist painter. But earlier in his career, he had aspired to be a cartoonist, and after he become disillusioned with abstraction in the late 1960s, he began to portray himself as the truncated, ineffectual stumblebums who wander aimlessly through his late works.
Guston's pictures from this period were mostly about his own feelings of physical and social awkwardness. He often represented himself as a pair of large, clumsy feet. The lithograph print at Goya is called Studio Corner, but what we see is no homage to genius but rather an utterly banal scene that implies the artist's presence only in so far as he is like anyone else - he puts on his pants one leg at a time.
Louise Bourgeois, who was the subject of three local solo exhibitions in Baltimore this year - at the Walters Art Museum, the Contemporary Museum and Goya - was also fond of picturing herself in terms of everyday objects. In this Goya show, she presents herself as a trio of wooden paddles and as a series of stark, black-and-white spirals that could be tiny metal springs or the rounded shells of snails.
The show also includes paintings, drawings and prints by John Baldessari, Timothy App, Lee Bontecou, Madeleine Keesing, Soledad Salame, Peter Doig, Jo Smail, Sally Egbert, Vija Celmins, Louisa Chase, Liliana Porter and Terry Winters.
Shine On runs through Sept. 9 at Goya Contemporary, 3000 Chestnut Ave., Suite 214. Call 410-366-2001.