Although it’s hard to resist quoting playwright Robert Patrick’s description of artist Patrick Angus (1953-1992) as “the Toulouse-Lautrec of Times Square,” the paintings and drawings that sealed Angus’s largely underground reputation are darker, cruder, and far raunchier than the Frenchman’s. Working in a loose, confident style that looks like a marriage of David Hockney and David Park, Angus staked out New York’s gay porn theaters, hustler bars, strip clubs, and back rooms in the years before AIDS panic shut virtually all of them down. His sketches and canvases, 71 of which have been brought together for this retrospective, are a queer remembrance of things past, all the more pungent and thrilling for their utter lack of nostalgia. Perhaps because he was hardly a disinterested observer, Angus wasn’t passing judgment on the men and boys who populate his casually stylized tableaux, but he maintains a cool distance, picking up on the ennui, anxiety, tension, and heat and preserving them in time capsules too loaded to miss. Jarrod Beck’s tantalizingly elusive, vivaciously sexy drawings, prints, and collages in the gallery’s long entryway couldn’t be a more apt prelude.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 27, 2004