Quick Chelsea Crawl

In times of retrenchment painting moves up from mere kingship of the artworld to godhood but at least we have something gorgeous to look at. A quick hop around Chelsea finds rather stunning Eric Fischl bullfight scenes, existential dread intact (Mary Boone), spray-and-stencil Rorschach-ish patterns with a '70s feel by Matthew Ritchie (Andrea Rosen), and Gaussian "soft op" paintings in hard-edged halftones by Wayne Gonzales (Paula Cooper). Mike Kelley joins the "on canvas" crowd with many so-bad-they're-good daubings at Gagosian. The most thrift-store-like are in the back gallery, strategically positioned not to face the door--modernist sculptures, Indian gods and boners mingle in work so crudely rendered you can't help but laugh. The man can still deliver. Fellow LA-ite Robert Williams seems civilized by comparison, offering intriguing brain teasers-n-babes at Shafrazi. (Not painting but painting-like, noteworthy, and, well, about oil are Edward Burtynski's bleak photoscapes of drilling sites at Hasted Hunt Kraeutler.)