The New Yorker
In one of the most buzzed-about débuts of the fall season, Casteel shows large figurative canvases that combine the candid immediacy of the digital snapshots on which they’re based with the restraint and humanity of an Alice Neel portrait. The young Colorado-born phenom worked almost entirely from pictures she took in Harlem of men, at night. Casteel’s subjects, like the artist herself, are black, and her work tackles the representation of race in general, while revelling, as painters will, in the specific details. In “Q,” a man sits on a stoop next to a sketched-in green railing, earnestly consulting his iPhone, and wearing a sweatshirt with an image of Biggie Smalls in wraparound shades, a gold chain, and a Coogi sweater. In “MegaStarBrand’s Louie and A-Thug,” two well-turned-out young men sprawl with authority in folding chairs on the sidewalk, gazing skeptically out of frame. One wears a shirt that says “REASON,” the other is in a T-shirt that reads “T.H.U.G.: THE HATE YOU GAVE US.” In her exhilarating, if uneven, show, Casteel gives nothing but love.