Given Huang’s indirectness, we experience the scene as if imbued with symbolist forms, which reveal their meaning only fleetingly. Yet the painting does not feel deliberately obscure, but rather poses the question, How much must be revealed before the images makes narrative sense?
Downes paintings reflect a unique combination of aggressive conception and passive elaboration. Fervent perceptions of space enliven their broad outlines; details follow, filling in the story of each site exactly “as is.” Colors add atmosphere and light.
Too often group exhibitions, especially those that mix together young artists and famous figures, fail to reveal elective affinities. This tight small show, however, revealed that these nine very different looking works of art all shared a genuine concern with successive approximation. And in doing that, it also displayed the totally unexpected relationship of these contemporary works of art with the traditions of old master painting.
Despite different approaches towards scale, texture and color, a common attitude pervades each artist’s style that isolates a cool tension between involvedness and restraint.
Their biomorphic qualities are undermined by the fabrication process, but this increases the sense of otherness they generate. They suggest imaginary beings that are not the product of fantasy, but rather of imaginative speculation on the real but unknown.
Seeing Double is packed with elaborations of his trademark idiom: imagery transmogrified
Although Robinson’s snowscapes recall the nineteenth-century Arctic exploration that captured America’s imagination, her work also conjures our 21st-century fear of natural disaster—that nature will reclaim the manmade landscape by our own disregard for the environment.
Physical gesture means the artist’s hand is present yet transcended: there is no question that the arcs or circles are handmade, but an unforced, lyrical all-overness creates a cosmic, suprapersonal sense of order and well-being.
There is a pervasive ambivalence in Katy Grannan’s portraits: the gaze that returns the viewer’s is a mix of coyness and exhibitionism. The images themselves oscillate between similar extremes, building a visceral sense of the present through precision while succumbing to a remoteness that results from theatricality.
However raw and rude his torn, scorched and crudely sewn-together burlaps, his molten plastics, or his randomly cracked ceramics might have been, he was a consummate aesthete, incapable — seemingly — of inelegance. In the case of Italian artists, the national stereotype happens to be true — they have a Midas touch with beauty, even when they are attempting to convey poverty, trauma or angst.