New American Paintings/Blog


Joshua Abelow at Devening Projects + Editions by New American Paintings
February 6, 2012, 8:15 am
Filed under: Chicago, Review | Tags: , , ,

Devening Projects + Editions just opened up a solo show of Joshua Abelow’s work entitled Songs From a Room. The exhibition features an assortment of Abelow’s small-ish paintings spanning the last four years. I’m a big fan of Joshua’s work, and the show is happening at an important point in his career; since his recent move to James Fuentes in NYC and the ever-growing popularity of his obsessively updated blog, ART BLOG ART BLOG, the name Joshua Abelow has been unavoidable.


Joshua Abelow | Self Portrait, 2011, oil on burlap on canvas, 18”x14”


installation shot

installation shot

The content of Abelow’s work is simultaneously self-deprecating, funny, self-reflexive, sarcastic, and critical; while maintaining an integrity to surface and an incredibly unexpected color sensibility. He has created a caricature of the Painter, but also of himself. The great thing about humor is that it has the ability to disarm, and the most effective comedy deals with the more tragic aspects of human nature. Joshua’s paintings tap into the pathos of being an artist, specifically the narcissistic nature of production; but implicates himself into the equation – in a sort of brute, slapstick manner. The result is a type of humor that is personal to the artist and easy to empathize with. Whether it is a geometric abstraction with his phone number on it, a dumbed-down self portrait containing a line for a nose and two dots for eyes, or a monochromatic painting of a concerned, bearded head with “WHY TRY?” inscribed around it – the paintings make me think of Paul McCarthy’s famous film Painter for their funny, though abject, depictions of the modernist-painter trope. This re-investigation of modernism isn’t new, but Abelow’s humorous self-implication brings a certain freshness to the conversation.


Joshua Abelow | Self Portrait, 2011, oil on linen, 16”x12”

Joshua Abelow | Call Me Abstract (FGG), 2010, oil on linen, 12”x9”

installation shot

The formal simplicity of Joshua’s work may be deceptive – though seemingly lazy and at times sloppy, the paintings contain a real criticality of what it means to be a painter/artist today.

This show is a must-see!


Joshua Abelow | Untitled (Abstraction “NR”), 2010, oil on burlap on canvas, 12”x9”

Joshua Abelow | Untitled (Abstraction “FGG”), 2011, oil on burlap on canvas, 12”x9”

Joshua Abelow | Self Portrait, 2010, oil on linen, 12”x9”

Joshua Abelow | Self Portrait, 2010, oil on burlap on canvas, 24”x18”

Songs From a Room is currently on view and runs through March 3rd, 2012. For more info visit Devening Projects + Editions.

Born in 1976, Joshua Abelow earned his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1998, and his MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2008. He has participated in residencies at the Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, Vermont), the Banff Center (Alberta, Canada), and at Takt Kunstprojectraum (Berlin, Germany). Abelow is represented by James Fuentes Gallery in New York City.  He has had solo shows in New York at James Fuentes LLC and Tomorrow Gallery in Toronto, and group shows at Nudashank (Baltimore), Grizzly Grizzly (Philadelphia), Thierry Goldberg (NYC), and Dodge Gallery (NYC). Check out his blog here: ART BLOG ART BLOG 

Josh Reames is a Chicago-based artist and director of Manifest Exhibitions

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