Tim McCool’s art has often been animated by a sardonic humor, like his greeting cards that read “Best wishes, I guess,” but the Boston artist’s new show isn’t about punch lines in the way of some of his past projects. Instead in his new exhibition, McCool seems to be playing with a visual joke.
Super-thin laptops in neat apartments are the subjects of Tim McCool’s paintings in his exhibition “Wintermute,” on view at Flowering Rock, 460 C Harrison Ave., Boston, through Jan. 18. The visual gag here seems to be a pun on the idea of flat screens. The joke is the flatness of paintings versus the three-dimensionality of what they depict, which in this case is flat laptops, floors, tasteful abstract paintings, flowered tablecloths, stained hardwood floors. At times, he contrasts them with thick gobs of surrounding paint that indicate blades of grass. The results are some of McCool’s most formally complex artworks.
You might recall that a few years back, McCool was offering funny greeting cards that read: “Great job on the thing you did”; “Congrats or whatever”; “Best wishes, I guess.” His 2017 exhibition at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly offered cartoony podiums to pose on to proclaim one’s achievement of “Most Best-est,” “Pretty Good-est” or “Okay-est.” The computer paintings are more in the vein of the mural he painted in 2017 on the city of Boston’s Finland Building at 774 Albany St. of a painting perched on an easel atop a rooftop depicting the sun rising over the hillside in the distance. It teased with its meta joke of a mural of a painting of a happy sunrise with the sunrise itself included.
McCool, the ironic observer of contemporary life, is represented in this exhibition. In laptop computers McCool has identified another one of those dazzling and ubiquitous, but, in the end, kind of dreary features of our future-present. So perhaps he’s again ruminating on disappointment, on the anticlimactic. And then the name of the exhibition happens to be the name of a character in William Gibson’s landmark 1984 cyberpunk novel “Neuromancer.” “Wintermute” is a nefarious artificial intelligence scheming to escape its human-imposed bounds.
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