OMG It’s Nic Rad’s New Solo Show, “Perennial Millennial”

May 7, 2016 7:59PM

Brooklyn-based artist Nic Rad wants you to meet Jackson Johns. Jackson has already googled himself three times today. He’s waiting for someone to like his latest selfie. He’s considering changing his avatar to reflect his support for a recent political cause. Jackson is smart. You likely already know him. If you’re a millennial, you might even be him.

Jackson—the hypothetical love child of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg—doesn’t physically appear in “Perennial Millennial,” an exhibition of Rad’s paintings at Victori+Mo Contemporary in Brooklyn, but his invented presence pervades the show. Some of the paintings, such as Blood Simple (2016), even bear his signature in place of Rad’s. Taken collectively, the paintings amount to something like wallpaper in Jackson’s chaotic interior world.

Each of the works reflects a world oversaturated with information. Diverse visual cues—memes, emojis, bits of text referencing pop-culture phenomena, etc.—vie for and only momentarily capture primacy of place until something else comes along and demands attention.

The many figures and facets of the millennial’s modern age are encapsulated here in all their slightly nauseating glory: like buttons, selfies, bro, dude, dang, babe, you name it. Text-message-friendly phrases like LOL and OMG jump out from the canvases, which are covered in a manic assortment of colors. The paintings have been mounted on the wall in clusters, salon-style, which amplifies the effect of sorting through the frenetic mess of visual information, like looking at all the open windows on your laptop screen.

Rad’s paintings may embrace the flippancy of Dadaism—consider OMG God Is Dead (2015), for instance—but many are infused with anxiety, giving them more heft than a simple JKLOL. Impasto and layering techniques dominate Finite Jest (haha) (2016), while The Scream, 2 (2016) comes to life in a horrific human countenance displaying signs of a nervous breakdown. After all, Munch’s masterpiece—ancient by today’s standards—is now a click away in emoji form.

—Grace-Yvette Gemmell

Nic Rad: Perennial Millennial” is on view at Victori+Mo Contemporary, Brooklyn, New York, Apr. 1–May 8, 2016.

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