‘Louis Fratino: Come Softly to Me’
“Eros lives in Brooklyn, in a two-bedroom walk-up off the Grand Street L, probably with roommates,” writes Christopher Alessandrini. “You might have seen him dancing past midnight at Metropolitan on Lorimer Street, or walking his dog under the Manhattan Bridge. Maybe you’ve exchanged messages on Grindr; met at a friend’s birthday drinks; made eyes on the subway, in the locker room, during a poetry reading. Elusive, mysterious, overbooked, uncomfortably attractive—the type of boy in Louis Fratino’s paintings seems both ordinary and timeless, fellow subway passenger and saint, superficially of the moment but rooted, also, in a deeper, stranger classicism.
“The twenty-five paintings in “Come Softly to Me”—Fratino’s first solo show, at Sikkema Jenkins & Co.—range from gem-like portraits of friends and lovers to larger scenes of city life to a trio of alluring box lids, each measuring roughly 3.5 x 3.5 inches. Known primarily for his graphic but tender representations of queer intimacy, often set in the same apartment, Fratino here swaps domestic tranquility for psychogeography. Many of the featured works were made following a breakup, during a period marked by long walks around the city; they certainly embody an ambivalent relationship to this sudden windfall of hours. For all the new faces and encounters, the prevailing mood is one of charged solitude.
“The central gallery features a stunning wall of seven smaller works, mostly around 9 x 12 inches. The first, and most seductive, Invitation (2019), is a teasing boudoir portrait of a young man lying on his stomach, turned to face the viewer, plucking at his thong with a sly confidence. In Tom (2019), a man lounges serenely in tight black underwear and a plaid button-down, suspended in reverie; Me and Ray (2018) captures a moment of sexual prelude. They read like snapshots, shuffled and reshuffled in the mind’s eye before sleep.”
For more information, visit sikkemajenkinsco.com.
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