For those of you who have not yet seen Disrupted Realism (or if you have seen it and would like to know more about the immensely talented artists who make up this powerhouse of an exhibition), here is a bit about each in the words of our curator John Seed:
Alex Kanevsky is a painterly risk-taker whose paintings are full of slippery and satisfying visual disjunctions. His best works have a sense of immense skill lurking beneath a luxurious incoherence. In a 2012 interview with Neil Plotkin, Kanevsky stated: “I always want to function at the edge of my current abilities to keep things exciting. There should always be a danger of a painting crashing and burning.”
Since the “invisibles” of artist Anne Harris are rooted in self-portraiture, they begin with self- inspection and then move forward into an ethereal realm of improvisation and invention. Harris’ spectral figures loom in an atmosphere of temporality, assuming the weightlessness of imagined bodies. As Harris explains: “The figure might have less weight than the air: I love trying to paint dense air. The entire painting becomes the body. It is exciting to me that everything is skin and air.”
Catherine Kehoe’s paintings—seen at a glance—are composed of relatively simple forms. Kehoe paints flat planes and zones that join at firm edges, generating a seemingly spare vocabulary of recognizable forms that overlay hints of dynamism and complexity. Activated by rhythmic overlaps and charged by shards of color that peek through surprising shapes, Kehoe’s compositions weave positive and negative forms into concertos of light, color and semi-abstracted form.
By giving Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa a blast of perspectival velocity, Valerio D’Ospina revitalizes and transforms our understanding of the original painting. In his skilled hands the raft of survivors becomes something else: a carrier of memories and a metaphor for history and experience. The diagonal energy of D’Ospina’s brushwork challenges our ability to see an iconic image with fresh eyes and a mind re-opened to its contemporary implications.
The portraits of Lou Ros present us with figures that exist in the space between paint and reality: they are both knowable and just out of reach. Ros knows how to manipulate paint in such a way that he tells us just enough about his subjects, but not too much. Surrounded by marks and traces that indicate the process of painting, they open up mysteries and possibilities.
Bruce Samuelson’s semi-abstract drawings of human figures suggest multiplicity, transformation and the artist’s attempt to see the body as a vehicle for artistic process. Employing multiple viewpoints, shifting silhouettes and blurred forms, Samuelson walks the tightrope between representation and abstraction. His process suggests an affinity with sculpture, generating forms that alternately morph into tangible form and disappear into illegibility.
Stanka Kordic evokes a world of fragility and sentiment. Kordic’s artistic process, which is centered around her affinity for the undiscovered, is sensitive to mystery, memory and narrative. Figures vanish, coalesce and layer themselves into painted environments that seem to both sustain and corrode them. Kordic’s resonant images are often unforgettable and just a little bit uncomfortable.
The paintings of Nicolas Sanchez—which are rooted in his experience of living between cultures—are personal narratives that raise questions about identity. His figures suggest the many layers of understanding and experience that he has navigated as a Mexican-American, and rely on subtle cues and formations to trigger memories and associations. As Sanchez struggles to construct each image he muses on the wider struggles of those he identifies with and feels connected to.
A painter of slipping glimpses, Justin Duffus has a knack for creating unsettling images that are the products of a vivid, restless imagination. Sometimes funny and sometimes weird, Duffus’ canvases blend hints of the mundane with hints of mystery. His searching brushwork and flexible approach to imagery mark Duffus as a painter who can consistently hold our attention while subverting our expectations.
The portraits of Kai Samuels-Davis present ambiguous, introspective figures that are the product of a searching, process-oriented approach to painting. Using both brushes and scrapers, Samuels-Davis might be described as a portraitist who works in reverse, moving his subjects towards abstraction. Solitary and spiritual, each painted figure presents itself as full of possibilities, yet somehow private. The role of the painter in the creation of each individual portrait is perhaps the only clearly defined presence.
In his dazzling and detailed canvases, Robert Bermelin freezes and unfreezes the clamor of urban environments. Bermelin has a feeling for crowds and chaos that he depicts with a nervousness indicated by fragmentation, blurring and transparency. Because his work is grounded in skilled realism, Birmelin’s visual disruptions and displacements are both convincing and un-nerving.
Painter James Bland paints in a state of flux: he has an open-ended approach to painting that involves both observation and transformation. “I like that this process remains mysterious,” Bland comments. “I don’t illustrate stories or themes that have been decided upon a priori.” Because he strives to stay off balance and surprise himself, Bland has developed into a highly responsive and individualistic artist whose works feature dynamic interchanges between form and brushwork.
Stephanie Pierce sees her paintings as metaphors that represent her explorations of the intersection of perception and abstraction. By layering screens and scrims of imagery against each other, Pierce creates zones that work both with and against each other. Fascinated by the possibilities of light, space and form in concert, Pierce fashions deeply engaging canvases that elicit slow inspection and reward with their subtleties.
There is an assertive strangeness present in the portraits of Radu Belcin. As the artist explains it: “In my works I try to create a universe where any stander by is taken out of the conventional reality and thrown in the middle of unexpected situations. By generating disturbing and disruptive associations Belcin moves what might otherwise be thought of as mundane images towards the supernatural and the quasi-spiritual.
There is a sense of digital disruption in the paintings of Justin Bower: its hard to tell whether people who are transfixed and transformed by screens, or who are—in some sense—screens themselves. Jarring, and lit by woven shards of RGB color, Bowers presents us a world somehow pierced and even infected by technology and digital imagery. The destabilization apparent in Bower’s portraits has its genesis in Cubism, which it re-invents for a contemporary technological context.
Disrupted Realism is now on view in the gallery through Saturday, February 24th.