In 1971, Pearlstein clearly stated his position on realsim in an article, “Why I Paint the Way I Do”, which appeared in the New York Times on August 22 of that year. The article, which is reproduced in full in the exhibition catalogue, is as strikingly relevant to Pearlstein’s painting today as it was in 1971. In fact, Pearlstein had suggested ‘Alone in the Jungle’ as a title for this article, indicating how alone he felt in his particular approach to realism. Unlike the other realists of the time, Pearlstein chose to paint exactly what he saw, without resorting to photography or narrative.
I meant to create strong aggressive paintings that would compete with the best of abstraction.
As seen in the paintings on view, Pearlstein remains sustained by a voracious hunger to paint exactly what is in front of him. Over time his paintings have evolved in their visual complexity, challenging his skill yet adhering to the original premise of an abstracted realism that he set forth in 1971.