What Me Worry

Andrew Kuo: What Me Worry BY Kelefa Sanneh, Andrew Kuo. Damiani/Standard Press. Hardcover, 208 pages. $49.

The cover of Andrew Kuo: What Me Worry

Know thyself, the ancient philosopher said. Graph yourself, might be New York–based artist Andrew Kuo’s reply. By slice and dicing his stream of neurotic consciousness into flow charts, pie charts, and bar graphs, Kuo renders quotidian thoughts, worries, and speculations as quantifiable and official looking as GDP projections from the Congressional Budget Office. His images—marked by a gleefully saturated palette and puzzle-like complexity—play against staid expectations, calling to mind artists like Gene Davis and Barnett Newman rather than your Econ 101 textbook. The highbrow gloss notwithstanding, Kuo candidly depicts intimate preoccupations. Some are intellectual and reflective, such as “My Selected History with the Boredoms” and “My Relationship to the Music on May 8, 2008” But most are confessional: “Some Things I’m Scared of in Nov, 2007,” a bar graph on which MY FATHER DYING and GOING BLIND tower over, in descending order, UNREQUITED MEGA-CRUSHES, BEING AUDITED, and GOING BALD. In “I Have to Admit,” the Albers-inspired graph, the obsessive impulse grows explicit: I REGRET CUTTING SHORT THE LAST CONVERSATION I WOULD EVER HAVE WITH YOU is the bright yellow near the core; FANTASIES ABOUT STEPPING IN FRONT OF TRAFFIC ON DELANCEY STREET HAPPEN, the dark orange band; and, the brown along the outer edge, I FULLY THREW AWAY THAT FUGLY PAINTING YOU GAVE ME. Just what the graph says about the relative importance of these revelations may be hard to parse, but the comedy—the gap between the geometric, bureaucratized form and Kuo’s offhand pseudoprofundities—lends his art palpable charm: This is the skewed yet true measure of one man.