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Time Out New York
Jun/96


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TIME OUT NEW YORK, June 19-26, 1996 ~Tim Griffin

THOMAS TROSCH, “Musical Comedy Medley”
Jessica Fredericks Gallery

Not withstanding the current revival of the form, the last couple of decades have not been great ones for the big Broadway musical. Or so it must seem to Thomas Trosch, who looks back to the reverie, whimsy and glamour of Broadway’s Golden Age in this show of six new paintings.

Each work depicts a party, salon or art gallery scene coupled with lyrics taken from some musical of the ‘30s, ‘40s or ‘50s. Two society ladies stand before the stylish portrait of a third, and one excitedly confides to the other, in the words of Lorenz Hart (written above the painting): “My heart is clattering, my teeth are chattering…it must be love.” Another painting presents a crowded poolside gathering, the text above rhapsodizing over “endless joys you never knew.” In each case, Trosch applies his paint like Betty Crocker frosting in a gaudy birthday-cake melange of color. None of which precludes clever art historical references on the artist’s part: A splash of pool water offers an expressionistic take on David Hockney’s slick L.A. paintings from the ‘60s, while nearby pool tiles recall Matisse. Often Trosch’s festive scenes include prominently displayed Abstract Expressionist artworks.

Trosch’s earlier canvases also features bachelors in smoking jackets and chic ladies perpetually reclining on chaise lounges. But the text around them contained thorny quotes about art auctions and collectors, in what amounted to thinly veiled jabs at the art world. Here, instead of simply settling for New Yorker-style parody, Trosch convincingly shows us why he’s interested in these partygoers as a subject. His current paintings are like a cocktail party with sexy friends: They flirt with and fawn over the viewer. As Trosch says, quoting Cole Porter in 1938’s Break the News (the words interspersed with little pink and blue flowers): “It’s a swell planet if you take the time to scan it, and it all belongs to you.” That’s about how you’ll feel after seeing this work. You might even consider taking in a musical.