After leaving the Whitney Biennial, I was looking for some more inspiring fare and so headed down to Chelsea for a quick trip to some galleries whose shows seemed promising. On 26th Street, Galerie Lelong provided a nice jolt of energy with the work of Emilio Perez: large abstractions full of swirls and whooshes, meticulously and intuitively created by cutting out layers of acrylic paint with an exacto knife. (I would have guessed that the hard edges came from careful masking, but the gallery’s press release corrected my impressions.) The paintings read a bit like a Julie Mehretu abstraction done in the style of a Lichtenstein brush stroke painting: from a distance you get the sense of a swirling atmosphere but as you look up close you see hard, graphic edges delineating the various “strokes” of paint.
The next block over there’s a wonderful show of paintings by Jean Lowe at McKenzie Fine Art. The paintings are intriguing to look at while also quite funny. Entitled, “Yes, Yes, Yes!”, the show is about excessive consumerism and each of the loosely brushed but still globally detailed paintings takes a slightly fish-eyed view of a large room, part grocery store, part Baroque palace! In the foregrounds, you see rows of products that could easily have come from a Target store, while the backgrounds and ceilings of the rooms look like European palaces or museums decorated with classical paintings. The show includes a handmade bookshelf containing a number of hilarious paper mâché faux books with titles like, “Kindle: The Missing Manual” (a huge tome of a book!), or, “The Joy of Pickling: 200 Scenarios”.
Down on 20th Street, Kathryn Markel is exhbiting some colorful abstractions on paper by Diane Ayott that are full of pattern and repitition, addressing some formal issues similar to my own work. Ayott uses objects such as bottle caps and lids as “stamps” to make repetitive marks in ways that create pleasing patterns and fields of color.
Finally, in the same building on 20th Street, Kim Foster Gallery hosts a fine three person exhibition where meticulous drawing catches the eye and invites close inspection. First up are William Brovelli’s “Timeline project” canvases, each of which contains a grid upon which the artist has drawn a small characters in ink on the borders of each grid cell. As time passes, Brovelli whitewashes each of the characters and re-works the grid cells with new ones. The process continues for many months until the work is sold or the artist shuts down the canvas, leaving the viewer with a snapshot of time and a historical record of artistic decisions and moods.
Next up is Diane Samuels, whose obsessive pen drawings on handmade paper are full of thousands of small circles when added up render a kind of microscopic mapping of the street in Pittsburgh where the artist has lived for thirty years. Varying amounts of pressure applied to the paper during the drawings’ creations cause the paper to bulge here and there providing a third dimension of interest to these works.
Finally, the gallery displays some of Paul Glabicki’s “ACCOUNTING for…” drawings. These finely rendered drawings begin with an “under-drawing”, where Glabicki hand draws in minute detail pages from a found 1930s Japanese ledger, providing texture and a structure upon which to continue. Then, the artist records various bits of information over time on top of the existing drawing: snippets of equations, graphs, curves, notes, and other markings. These reminded me both of John Zinsser’s recent “Auction Lot” drawings (replicated from pages of old art auction catalogs) and of particle accelerator images with swirls and collisions of data flying around the page.
That ended my day in New York City, but there was still some more art to see back in Jersey. After about a fifteen minute rest at home, I headed out to the Mercer County Artists 2010 show for a fine opening reception at The Gallery. The exhibition is full of creative, very high quality work in all media and styles and it was a great show to be a part of. The show remains up through April 1, 2010.