Peter Saul's career, spanning more than seven decades, has always been characterized by a relentless challenge to societal norms, a lurid color palette, and distinctive comic satire. Saul’s most recent works usher in a less overtly politicized dimension, continuing to explore themes and imagery introduced in his last solo exhibition in New York. They reflect upon the formal concerns he’s honed throughout his career, underscoring the source materials and symbols he frequently renders to mount his enduring challenge to the orthodoxies of artistic movements.

At the heart of the exhibition are paintings that critically and humorously address both artistic and social paradigms. “Bad Day at the Gallery” (2023) is a riotous depiction of art dealers, comically elevating the notion of art’s commercial value with its distorted figures desperately jostling paintings and money. Similarly, “Cheeseburgers in the Art World” (2023) offers a satirical perspective on the act of creation, granting agency to inanimate cheeseburgers that seemingly paint themselves into existence. Saul’s attention to global concerns is palpable in two distinct yet connected works titled “Global Warming” (2022 & 2023), where he satirizes society’s often dismissive attitude toward imminent climate crises.

Exhibiting Saul’s signature taste for contorted characters, paintings such as “Last Dime” (2022) and “Rain” (2023) showcase his penchant for peculiar perspectives, intertwining humor with a subtle critique on society’s relationship with money and natural phenomena, respectively. His humorous take on religious iconography is evident in “Holy Shit!” (2023), which daringly reinterprets a revered Christian tableau with divine, haloed turds.

If Saul’s recent works pivot away from the brazen antagonism characteristic of his early production, he has only made himself more vulnerable to their address. “Self Portrait Thinking About Art” (2023), satirizes Abstract Expressionism and provides a reflective glance into the artist’s mind, epitomizing Saul’s enduring criticism of prevailing artistic movements. Functioning with a similar compositional logic, “Extraterrestrials in the Art World” (2023) one of the largest works in the exhibition, culminates like a painted spectacle that re-stages iconic motifs from Saul’s oeuvre in an exuberant, interconnected melee reminiscent of a food fight.

The works on view make manifest the artist’s continued ability to push boundaries with a set of tools honed over the course of his long career. Rooted firmly in his signature themes and styles, the exhibition offers an energized investigation of familiar subjects, framed within a more nuanced, comedic critique of artistic norms and societal concerns. Taken together, the presentation testifies to Saul’s position as one the most influential artists of his generation.

For more information, visit Venus Over Manhattan.