Where to buy… Julien Nguyen
The Week reviews an exhibition in a private gallery at Modern Art
The American painter Julien Nguyen is not one to shy away from a bold gesture. His stock in trade is taking the imagery of Italian Renaissance religious scenes and transporting them to morally murky present-day Los Angeles, throwing a bit of German expressionism in for good measure. A typical painting in this show of new work, titled Ex Forti Dulcedo, will portray a resurrected Jesus looking for all the world like a stoned rock star, or depict the Virgin complete with tan and A-list bone structure. References to the old masters are coated in seediness and lightly sexualised, a trick that occasionally reduces things to the level of gimmickry. Yet while the Bronzinomeets-bret Easton Ellis formula can seem a little laboured, Nguyen is an accomplished painter with an impressive eye for composition. Best of the lot here is his reinterpretation of Leonardo’s Annunciation, in which Gabriel and Mary have improbably ended up perched around one of David Hockney’s Californian swimming pools. Prices on request.
50-58 Vyner Street, London E2 (020-7299 7950). Until 27 June.