Thursday, December 7, 2017

Autumn in New York, Part 4: Shape, Gesture, Surface

Part 1: Fiction (With only Daylight Between Us)

Detail of Leslie Wayne painting

Autumn in New York has offered a wealth of sensuous shape, vigorous gesture, and surfaces that range from paint-laden swipes to dry-brush strokes that rely on color and suggestion to do their work. In this post I’ve opted to show you more from each of a few artists. How could I not open with the  paintings of Leslie Wayne? Is there anything more voluptuous? 

LESLIE WAYNE, Coquette, 2016, oil on panel, 27 x 23 x 3.5 inches

LESLIE WAYNE, Free Experience at Jack Shainman Gallery, Chelsea (September 7-October 21)
Here, the eponymous painting from the exhibition, Free Experience, 2016, oil on panel, 28.5 x 26 x 7 inches

Installation view, from gallery website

Wayne's work interests me immensely. Her use of color is masterful, and she packs a lot of it into a relatively small scale, so much so that it literally explodes--in a most controlled way--from the picture plane. But what I love most is the textile sensibility in Wayne's work, the way she drapes and ruches her paint films so that they suggest a scarf, a curtain, or a skirt. Her references go beyond textiles, however, as there are intentional suggestions of windows, wood, and woven baskets.

Here's Wayne from her statement about the exhibition: "In Free Experience I have returned to the figure-ground relationship as a way of exploring the range of possibilities for the representation of an illusion in as many different ways as possible, from tromp l’oeil to verisimilitude, while still remaining undeniably within the confines of a traditional painting. These paintings are a collision of abstraction and representation, of illusion and three-dimensional form."

LESLIE WAYNE, Swimmer's Boudoir, 2016, oil on panel, 28 x 24.5 x 5 inches; two views

LESLIE WAYNE, Indecision, 2017, oil on panel, 28 x 19 x 6 inches
Detail below

LESLIE WAYNE, Would, 2016, oil on panel, 27.5 x 25.5 x 4 inches
Detail below

. . . . .

ELIZABETH MURRAY, Painting in the '80s at Pace Gallery, Chelsea, through January 13, 2018
Here, Wake Up, 1981, oil on canvas (three parts)

Installation view of front gallery

View into the middle gallery with Making It Up, 1986, oil on canvas, center
Dimensional detail below

To be honest, I have never been a huge fan of Murray's cartoon-based abstraction, although I appreciate the ambitious size and scope of her paintings and the chops that went into their making. There are a few works in this show that I find  compelling--Making It Up, for instance, and the exuberant blue, puzzle-like Wake Up that you see when you walk into the gallery--but I'm not equipped to comment more fully, so let me draw from the press release:  

"Murray arrived in New York in 1967 during the heyday of Minimalism and the rise of Conceptualism, amid prevailing assertions of painting's demise. As she recollected, 'The mood was that painting was out, that hip people, people who were avant, weren't involved in painting. That was unnerving, but then I didn't give a damn.' Fully committed to painting, Murray broke new ground depicting personal, poetic, and at times feminist narratives on complex multidimensional shaped canvases."

View into back gallery with Cracked Question, 1987

From the middle gallery looking toward the front. Here, Picture-Crack Up, 1985
As you probably know,  Murray died in 2007 at the age of 69

. . . . .

LOUISE FISHMAN at Cheim & Read, Chelsea (September 7-October 21)

I've loved Fishman's work ever since her Angry paintings in the '70s. The passion, the gesture, the power, the schmear of her work has never disappointed. In this exhibition there was plenty of power but a little less paint, as an area of deeper space asserted itself.  Maybe it's just that the artist has relaxed her hold on the grid (or vice versa). Take a look.

LOUISE FISHMAN, Bearer of the Rose, 2017, oil on linen, 70 x 90 inches
Detail below

Installation views, above and below

Above: One Foot in the River, 2016, oil on linen, 74 x 88 inches
Below: Coda di Rospo, 2017, oil on linen, 70 x 88 inches

. . . . .

LEE KRASNER, The Umber Paintings, 1959-1962 at Paul Kasmin Gallery, Chelsea, through January 13, 2018
Entering the gallery you're faced with this blown-up photograph of Krasner on a ladder before her work. Don't you love it, housedress and all?

Twenty-four Umber paintings exist, created shortly after the death of Krasner's husband, Jackson Pollock. Here's how the press release puts it: "During this time of newfound solitude, Krasner moved into Pollock's studio at their home in the Springs, East Hampton, which enabled her to experiment on large canvases for the first time. In addition to the increase in scale, this period was also characterized by a further commitment to 'allover' compositions, an emphasis on gesturality, and an engagement with the individual psyche."

Not to be irreverent to a tragic icon, but it seems that Krasner's "newfound solitude" was accompanied by a lightness that allowed the "individual psyche" room to grow, to say nothing of the room to work. Dunque, as they say in Italian, in any case, this series emerged.

Installation views, above and below

LEE KRASNER, Seeded, 1950, oil on canvas, 70.75 x 109 inches

. . . . .

EMILY BERGER, Rhythm and Light at Walter Wickiser, Chelsea, curated by D. Dominick Lombardi  (September 30-October 25)
Here, Whether or Not, 2016, oil on wood, 36 x 30 inches

Installation view

Berger achieves that rare thing: richness borne of the sparest application of paint. Her paintings are atmospheric, suggestive of landscape (those lovely horizontals) as well as occasionally remiscent of a flowing scrim, thanks to an intentional dip in the line. Her handling of color on an often visible wood ground gives the viewer a sense that the painting is illuminated from within. You can read the curator's comments here, and Sharon Butler's interview with the artist in Two Coats of Paint.

EMILY BERGER, Farther, 2017, oil on wood, 30 x 24 inches

EMILY BERGER, Green Light, 2015, oil on wood, 24 x 20 inches

. . . . .

 ANDREA BELAG, Ghost Writer at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, Lower East Side (September 6-October 15)
Here, Red Strike, 2017, oil on wood panel, 22 x 30 inches
PDF catalog with essay by Jason Stopa  here

I'm a longtime admirer of Belag's painting. Confident color and broad swipes of paint typically reveal patches of color beneath an opaque surface. In this show all the work was smaller, more intimate, with almost weightless layers of transparent strokes on an unpainted, or lightly painted, ground.

ANDREA BELAG, Pirate Jenny, 2017, oil on linen, 48 x 56 inches

. . . . .

JACQUELINE HUMPHRIES at Greene Naftali, Chelsea, through December 16
Installation view

Even when we're not in front of our glowing screens, there's really no getting away from those devices. Over the years Humphries has moved from gestural abstraction to something that might be called digital abstraction. For her ninth solo show with the gallery, "custom-made, laser-cut stencils cannibalize elements of the artist’s previous paintings as pixelated drips, mechanically applied over literal splashes and blobs of paint," according to the press release. Still, the gesture remains, as it appears Humphries has superimposed the the mark of the hand over the stenciled surface.

JACQUELINE HUMPHRIES, /%%%|, 2017, oil on linen

JACQUELINE HUMPHRIES, installation view with sysysyo/, 2017, oil on linen , left; and o://:hdddd, 2017, oil on linen
Below, detail of o://:hdddd

. . . . .

SOLACE, group show at the former Robert Miller Gallery space, Chelsea, through December 9
Here, Ayn S. Choi, The Assumption of the Apocalypse, 2017, house paint on tarp

Artist Ayn S. Choi organized this six-week, 16-artist exhibition in response to our current demoralizing political climate. Choi describes the exhibition as "an artist chapel," offering "works by artists who turn inward, especially in times of turmoil, to find and inspire calm." You have just a few days left to get your dose of solace.

Installation view
Left: Lisa Corinne Davis, Screwball Sweep, 2014, oil on canvas, 48.75 x 41 inches; far wall: Black Lake, Orange Triangle Sunshine Thoughts Become Things and Sounds, 2017, mixed media on plywood

Mary Ann Strandell, For Baudelaire, 2017, acrylic ink drawing with lenticular panels, overall: 15 x 15 feet

Joaquin Carter, Bleached Structure, 2017, oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

Next post: Blanc et Noir


  1. Yes, thank you, Joanne! For those of us on the Left Coast, immensely inspiring seeing these large abstracts from New York and, as always, your insightful comments about them.