The artist and writer Maureen Mallarkey is of the old school. That’s not to say her work is stuck in time–just the opposite, it bursts into the room–but rather that she is equally adept at communicating in words or images, against the grain of our specializing times. For an equally fine example of such old school ambidexterity, try a letter to Theo. Correspondingly, and unsurprisingly, she likes art that speaks and she admires writers who eschew speaking nonsense about it.
This is not the majority. Mallarkey’s book reviews reveal a special penchant for legitimate, public service gotcha; she looks out for the reader and holds up a big bright Bullshit sign whenever smoky ambiguity chokes a sentence or underpins malformed assertions. A dubious passage in a shape-shifting book on Cezanne sees her cut right into an ethereal-sounding couplet the author hangs his thematic hat on. “Reason and tears,” she writes, ‘is a gnostic generality for rent; it can be leased to any purpose.’ Indeed. Mallarkey is no curmudgeon. It’s just that bullshit blunts life’s many joys. As she testifies in an article on the pop artist Mel Ramos: “It is when a cigar is not just a cigar that it is really fun.” She especially loves to paint the nude.