Filed under: Austin, Review | Tags: Brian Fee, Jason Middlebrook, Lora Reynolds Gallery
Painting on wood panels is old-school, the most popular way of supporting media until canvas took over in the 16th century. Jason Middlebrook isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel by painting directly onto internally cut trunks from the local mill. But in relocating from Williamsburg to Columbia County in upstate New York seven years ago, the artist began infusing his nature-minded oeuvre with the natural landscape. The Line That Divides Us, Middlebrook’s debut solo exhibition at Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin, is a distillation of his most recent work: subtle compositions on their own sublime hardwood slabs. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor
Jason Middlebrook | Black Betty, 2013, Spray paint on cherry, 105 x 18 x 1 1/4 inches. Courtesy the artist and Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin. (more…)
It seems almost fated that Texas transplants Pat Snow and Matthew John Winters would exhibit together. The mellifluous title to their grayDUCK Gallery duet Wintersnow Snowinters echoes the innate, mantra-like concentration evident in their respective works, combining images and memories to sublime conclusions. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor
Upon meeting Snow at the three-artist exhibition True Story at grayDUCK last year, I was stone-cold smitten with his graphite portrait Record Shop Girl and the liquidic color bouquets blooming across watercolor Sleeping vs Waking. There was something uncanny about these figures — Facebook “selfies” of Snow’s friends — something nostalgic, like girls I’d met in university or at some party in New York. His usage of text (either unsteady print or carefully meandering cursive, culled from snippets of conversation or song lyrics) redoubled this deep familiarity. Like: I know them from somewhere, or, I want to know them. Wintersnow Snowinters signals Snow’s first painting show in some two decades, so several earlier watercolor works (like Sleeping vs Waking) reappear here as fully-formed oil on panel compositions. The 2013 Wake features Snow’s hometown friend Heather (now an Austin-based chef) with clouds of grey across her face, like sleep’s last remnants, instead of the tropical shadows from last year’s watercolor. The same script — “it wasn’t so much the sleeping as much as the waking up” — snakes across her partially concealed arm like a tattoo, but the subdued palette radiates hazy consciousness, flickers of violet in her hair, a single streak of watery red extended beneath her lips.
Filed under: Austin, Review | Tags: Brian Fee, Ewan Gibbs, Lora Reynolds Gallery, Richard Foster
Take two fortyish male English artists sporting intricate, process-driven drawing prowess: one a bespectacled, intellectual northerner (Richard Forster), the other a bearded, loquacious southerner (Ewan Gibbs). Put them in a room together. Wait two years. What do you get? An intense discourse on drawing and its ability to convey emotion as acutely as a photograph. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor
Left: Richard Forster | Fashion Girl Woodland Shoot, 2012, Graphite and acrylic medium on bristol board, 12 1/6 x 8 1/8 inches. Courtesy the artist and Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin.
Right: Ewan Gibbs | Arlington, 2012, Graphite on paper, 17 7/8 x 12 inches. Courtesy the artist and Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin.
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Andrea Belag, Andrew Spence, Brian Fee, Chelsea, Edward Thorp Gallery, Gary Stephan, Jim Lee, Painting Advanced, Rachel Malin
I’ve got abstraction on my mind. Not that I shy away from unmistakable figuration — and I admit my weakness for the sexiness of fin de siècle Paris (Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec et al) — but lately I’ve been focusing my attention on process and color, whether or not form is even discernible. I moderated a panel of young abstract artists recently, yet despite my grasp of ‘contemporary trends’ I still turned my attention to the boldly titled group exhibition Painting Advanced that opened recently at Edward Thorp Gallery in Chelsea. The kicker is the five assembled artists aren’t all young (Gary Stephan and Andrew Spence are some four decades older than Rachel Malin), yet they are continually reworking the language of abstract painting, even within their own evolving styles. Time to take the pulse. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor
Andrea Belag | Retrace, 2012, Oil on linen, 45 x 38 inches. Courtesy of Edward Thorp Gallery, New York.
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Brian Fee, Medusa Pie Country, Peter Blum Gallery, Rosy Keyser
Take that old adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and quintuple it, then dive into Rosy Keyser’s latest solo Medusa Pie Country, the inaugural exhibition at Peter Blum Gallery‘s new midtown location. Keyser’s canvases are open books, flayed, stained, and/or augmented compositions imbued with visual narrative and reinventions of painting itself. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor
Rosy Keyser | Hungry Shepherd, Honeypot, 2013, Diptych. Left panel: enamel, spray paint, and rope on steel. Right panel: dye, enamel, bamboo, and polycarbonate on aluminum and wood on canvas. 106 x 178 inches (left: 102 x 87 inches; right 106 x 87 1/2 inches). Courtesy Peter Blum Gallery, New York. Photo credit: Adam Reich
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Al Held, Alphabet Paintings, Brian Fee, Cheim & Read
Some of the most massive — and massively satisfying visually, despite of and due to their reverberating minimalism — paintings exhibited in the West Chelsea gallery run right now hang in Cheim & Read, in Al Held’s seven-part suite of classic Alphabet Paintings. These are a treat: they exemplify Held’s ‘golden age’ geometric abstraction as much as Rene Magritte’s The Treachery of Images is tied to Surrealism and Damien Hirst’s shark the excessive ’90s. But seriously, Held’s early hard-edge compositions, spanning 1961-67 and dipping into his deftness with black and white, leave big impressions. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor
Al Held | Circle and Triangle, 1964, Acrylic on canvas, 144 x 336 inches (365.8 x 853.4 cm). Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York.
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Brian Fee, I Always Lie, Jeff Bailey Gallery, Jered Sprecher
Compositional kaleidoscopes could be a useful shorthand for describing Jered Sprecher’s oeuvre. As demonstrated in the cheekily titled I Always Lie, Sprecher’s third solo exhibition at Jeff Bailey Gallery in New York, he is equally gifted in color combinations and media application, in a range of scales and often within the same painting. That’s not to say the visual effect is erratic, but who needs stabilizing agents when the abstract noise is this awesome?! — Brian Fee, Austin contributor
Jered Sprecher | Heuristic, 2012, Oil on linen, 36 x 30 inches. Courtesy the artist and Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York.
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Brian Fee, David Zwirner Gallery, NYC, Suzan Frecon
Compositionally simple and deeply emotional. Deliberate execution and intuitive adaptation. For 40 years, Suzan Frecon has married these opposing forces in a transcendent, shimmering abstract style unmistakably her own. Throughout paper, her second solo exhibition at David Zwirner in New York, Frecon delves into the interplay between media and the surfaces receiving it. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor
Suzan Frecon | blue study from a painting form, 5, 2013, Watercolor on Arches hot press paper, Framed: 17 1/2 x 21 x 1 3/4 inches, Paper: 11 3/8 x 15 inches, Signed and titled verso, Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York.
Filed under: New York, Review | Tags: Brian Fee, Casey Kaplan Gallery, Giorgio Griffa, NYC
Marks to canvas, or even more concretely: gestures to a surface. Rarely is the act of painting — the rote, even mechanical notion of applying media from point A to B — so vividly celebrated as in Fragments 1968 – 2012, Giorgio Griffa’s career-spanning survey at Casey Kaplan in West Chelsea. That this four-decade mark-making exploration is Griffa’s first stateside solo exhibition since 1973 makes it even more auspicious. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor
Giorgio Griffa | QUASI UNA SPIRALE, 2008, Acrylic on canvas, 34.6 x 29.1 inches each, Image courtesy of the artist and Casey Kaplan, NY, Photo: Jean Vong
Filed under: Austin, Review | Tags: Austin, Brian Fee, Infinite Perfection, Joseph Phillips, Tiny Park
Tired of Big City confines, but reluctant to embrace the Baby Boomers’ love for suburban sprawl? Joseph Phillips (NAP #84 and 96) presents a solution in Infinite Perfection, his debut solo exhibition at Tiny Park in Austin. In just eight tidily composed works on paper and a modular wall piece, Phillips locks into that balance of manmade convenience and nature’s comfort, with results both blissfully utopian and chillingly severe. — Brian Fee, Austin contributor