Contributed by Clare Gemima / Analog Diary’s group exhibition “Chromazones” – curated by Derek Eller, Abby Messitte, Katharine Overgaard and Franklin Parrasch – features a wide, intergenerational array of artists. Many works, including Clare Grill’s Plant, Pam Glick’s Cat, Dog, Car, Sky, and Yukine Yanagi’s Chrysalis, are traditional oil paintings. Others utilize unconventional materials, such as glitter, which is found in Chris Martin’s Fireflies, or gemstones, which appear in Alteronce Gumby’s I can’t stop thinking about love. And there are ceramic sculptures, like Peter Shire’s Scozzese and Ken Price’s Iggy. The show confronts viewers with abundant color. While that may be a narrow parameter, here it provides insight into each artist’s approach to material and method of application.
No. 535, (Jan 1, 1957), a painting on masonite by Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, the oldest artist in the show, explodes in technicolor. The alacrity of the color commands focus on the artist’s delicately stroked forms, some quite abstract, others more clearly depicting serpents, fish, flowers, or clouds. Vibrant blue, turquoise, and amber dance in unexpected harmony. Scholarship on Von Bruenchenhein built only after his death in 1983, but he is now considered among the most eccentric and prolific outsider artists, alongside James Castle and Henry Darger. As I stood in front of No. 818, (July 3, 1959), I asked its collector, Andrew Edlin, how he assessed Von Bruenchenhein’s approach to color. Edlin replied: “The color sense in Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s 50s paintings is almost psychedelic, and like so much of his work, he was ahead of his time – about a decade in this case.”
One work that kept pulling me back to it was Tamara Gonzales’ Jaguar Spirit, a striking collage. An archetypal feline creature stares out, rendered with such sincerity that you’re compelled to smile back. Its sweet Pepto-Bismol-pink lips, purplish facial hair, and cozy orange mane suggests a kindergarten mural: nonsensical yet familiar. A blotty red border surrounding the sapphire-eyed and diamond-nosed creature encloses joyful sparkles and dots, recalling a page ripped from a school notepad. Laid over a larger piece of yellow painted paper are pencil scribbles and salmon-colored dashes, producing a raw edge cheerfully devoid of logic or consistency. Graphite shines through inks that meet but never blend. Though Gonzales’ exuberant content and composition are rewarding in themselves, she invites viewers to look well beyond.
Sylvia Snowden’s vigorously painterly Minnie’s Stitch oozes light and dark blues swarming in masses of aubergine-, tomato-, and mustard-colored globs that evoke a dangerous riptide. Hefty layers of oil paint build up the painting’s texture, such that the object itself appears weighed down by its own pigments. On an adjacent wall, Kennedy Yanko’s Falling Star, composed of a thick apple-green paint skin wrapped around a red rustic metal scrap, incorporates color in a dramatically different way but shares a gestural quality with Snowden’s painting. Snowden’s marks, especially in acrylic works like Green III, resemble Yanko’s manipulated scraps – smooth, then rugged, then smooth again.
“Chromazones” offers individual works that stand on their own on account of their unique combinations of attributes and are thematically linked by its artists’ shared penchant for emphatic color. An admirably well-integrated, inquisitive summer group show, propelling unexpected discoveries and expansive discussions.
“Chromazones,” Analog Diary, 1154 North Avenue, Beacon, NY. Through September 9, 2023. Artists: Latifa Alajlan, Polly Apfelbaum, Michael Berryhill, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Julia Chiang, Holly Coulis, Pam Glick, Tamara Gonzales, Clare Grill, Alteronce Gumby, Marcia Hafif, EJ Hauser, Chris Martin, Andrew Masullo, John McAllister, Dan Miller, Ken Price, Julia Rommel, Michelle Segre, Peter Shire, Cary Smith, Sylvia Snowden, Emma Soucek, Tracy Thomason, Yukine Yanagi, and Kennedy Yanko.
About the author: Clare Gemima contributes art reviews to Two Coats of Paint, The Brooklyn Rail, Contemporary HUM, and other art publications. She is currently a visual artist mentee in the New York Foundation of Art’s 2023 Immigrant Mentorship Program.