LES IS MORE
I have been a friend and fan of Les Rogers and his paintings since he started showing at Leo Koenig's Tribeca space in 2000. I liked the fact that Les was a surfer from Long Branch, N.J., had a wry sense of humor and could paint thoughtfully in just about any style.
I also love the arc of Les' often brilliant career: lost in the shuffle of Koenig's boy-band ethos, rebounding by selling some paintings to Elton John and dating socialite novelist Paula Froelich, of whom he did some lustful, rear view, palette-knifed nudes. Then it was back in the toilet with a group show at Haunch of Venison, which ended up not signing Les, because his star turn went into Minute 16.
But in the end, "it's all about the work," isn't it? (said the billionaire to the unemployed assembly line veteran). Nah, it's the art world, so it's all about the money! Anyway, I have been intrigued by the Georges Braque exhibition at Acquavella and hit upon Les for a present-day equivalent. "I moved back to New Jersey for six months, Charlie, and didn't visit my Mercer Street studio during that stretch for the first time in 18 years," Les told me. "Out in Jersey, I started buying old frames at flea markets, which inspired me to make my own with routered pine panels, almost absentmindedly, until it became a mania with me."
Stuck with so many frames, Rogers returned to the studio and has been painting up a storm from recent memories of surfing in Jersey (as I did) after Hurricane Irene, the only ribcracking waves in an unusually calm Atlantic summer. "All the sand dredging up at Sea Bright was bad for wave-riding in Jersey," Les added.
Well, Rogers has been painting so fast and so much, in the manner of an exploding Howard Hodgkin or Braque blinded by the sunlight, that I had to warn him to slow down. The paint flows through the carving of Les' frames, until it tilts and cracks like lava. Les Rogers' new paintings are suprafragilistic and still wet, news to me and new to you, dear reader. Maybe he'll also find another gallery some day.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).