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Ted Gahl at Real Pain


Ted Gahl’s new group of paintings, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, at Real Pain feel dreamily nostalgic. Some works have a tender paint application akin to Monet, or a figurative style that recalls the decorated women depicted in Art Nouveau, yet others feel nostalgic in more intimate ways, as if Gahl were retriggering some long-forgotten memory. Many of the paintings are divided into thirds or fourths, with various scenes depicted within the segments — a hazy floral pattern, a preening woman, the congested lights of city traffic. 

Many include a loosely painted black structure that looks like an artist’s easel or a window — a frame within a frame in which Gahl lays out his hazy narratives. Standing on the Moon (Commotions) is an outlier to this structure. Compositionally, the work includes a white base on which a ghostly figure stands, two ballooning circles emanating from her torso and occupying the rest of the canvas. Moving past any literal depiction, the painting seems to stand inside something more abstractly psychological, perhaps unearthing emotions held within past experiences.

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Photo: Ted Gahl, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (installation view) (2021). Image courtesy of the artist and Real Pain.