Ulf Puder’s use of paint is so carefully controlled one worries at first glance that his graphic and technical skills are mere byproducts of the amped-up and stylized East German academicism of the New Leipzig School that the artist is associated with. Fortunately, on close inspection the paintings’ crisp architectural structures give way to a painterliness that is emblematic of his fellow countrymen Neo Rauch and Gerhard Richter. Like Rauch and Richter, Puder’s artwork is saturated with a sense of its history. Layers of paint have been built up strategically to create an uncanny, empty world of rich texture and color. Many of the structural elements—beams, posts, walls—in these gently post-apocalyptic scenes are derived from taped lines whose removal reveals abstract and expressive underpainting. These “zips” add a crucial dynamism to the paintings as the eye struggles to follow the overlapping seams and strokes. The temporary and indefinite condition of the modular architecture emphasizes the precarity of contemporary life and painting. (Rachel Furnari)
Through January 31 at Kavi Gupta Gallery, 835 W. Washington Blvd.