Contributed by Margaret McCann / Catherine Mulligan’s captivatingly repellant “Bad Girls Club” at Tara Downs takes irreverent aim at American culture. Creatures of habitual selfies, her satirical painted ladies contend with the pressures of appearance. They would be at home in a John Waters film, where viewing likewise shifts between distaste, amusement, and aesthetics. Mulligan frames each painting with angular, industrial-looking signage that doesn’t detract but, like Polyester’s scratch-and-sniff option, adds a contrasting layer of interest. A zombie-esque girl in Nocturne 2 peeks at us over her shoulder with an intrusive blend of seduction and complicity, a boundary violation that almost breaks the fourth wall. Her grin, like that of Chucky’s bride or Otto Dix’s “Lady in Mink,” portends the unpleasant. But unlike Dix’s fallen women, survivors in post-World War I Germany, Mulligan’s anti-heroines are vapid consumers of leisure.
Contributed by D. Dominick Lombardi / Jammie Holmes, a self-taught painter born and raised in Thibodaux, Louisiana, now based in Dallas, is one of the artists currently featured in Marianne Boesky Gallery’s viewing rooms. “Make the Revolution Irresistible,” his first solo museum exhibition, is also up through November 26 at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. I first came across a Holmes painting earlier this year at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, as part of its exhibition “Then Is Now: Contemporary Black Art in America.” The show carried an explicit message about how little the opportunities for African Americans had advanced in the last 60 years, and how much worse things had gotten since 2016.
Contributed by Adam Simon / In a November 2022 article titled “Between Abstraction and Representation” in the New York Review of Books, Jed Perl lamented the equivocating position that many contemporary painters take in relation to abstraction and figuration. In his view, what was once a philosophical battleground, with two strongly held opposing positions, was now seen as merely a choice of equally viable means. His article focused on two artists, Julie Mehretu and Gerhardt Richter – Mehretu for inserting representational imagery in what appear as abstract paintings and Richter for ping-ponging between figuration and abstraction. What Perl doesn’t mention is the rich terrain of indeterminacy that results when artwork hovers between abstraction and figuration. Marcy Rosenblat’s solo show “Undercover,” now up at 490 Atlantic Gallery in Brooklyn, is a particularly successful example.
Contributed by Kari Adelaide Razdow / Alex McQuilkin’s recent solo shows at de boer gallery in Los Angeles and signs and symbols project space in New York featured needlepoint works on two- to three-foot-wide industrially fabricated aluminum hoops. The pastel monochrome hoops align aesthetically with Minimalism and display quoted passages from“Sentences on Conceptual Art,” Sol Lewitt’s seminal 1967 essay in Artforum. McQuilkin embroidered lines such as “perception of ideas leads to new ideas,” “illogical judgements lead to new experience,” and “the conventions of art are altered by works of art” onto dyed Birdseye fabric, originally used for cloth diapers. Combined with the automotive enamel coating on the hoops and the hand-sewn cursive letters, these declarative statements come across as benignly didactic, like messages on bumper stickers.
Contributed by David Carrier / Artist and art writer Joe Fig is interested in how contemporary art is made, viewed, and judged. His book Inside the Artist’s Studio provides a fascinating perspective on the role of the studio. The archly clever paintings in “Contemplating Compositions,” his solo show at Cristin Tierney Gallery, drill down on the presentation of art. Fig’s paintings show people looking at it in museums and galleries. They are small enough to fit into carry-on luggage, and so meticulously painted that they at first appear to be photographs.
Jane South and Sangram Majumdar both have paintings on view this month on the Lower East Side — South in “Halfway Off” at Spencer Brownstone Gallery, and Majumdar in “Confetti in the Shade”,” a two-person exhibition with Miko Veldkamp at Nathalie Karg. Majumdar got together with South for a conversation about her new work — her use of the circle, how we visually knit everything together into collaged moments that are spatial, material, textural and emotive, the body in space, working with found color, and the mysterious process of making art.
Contributed by Anna Gregor / Tess Wei’s black paintings and graphite works on paper are simultaneously material and apparitional, objective and spectral. Darkly painted wood panels hanging starkly against white walls, they are resolutely present as physical objects while at the same time too slippery to grasp visually as static images or compositions.
Contributed by Greg Drasler / “Brush the Heat,” Georgia Elrod’s first solo show at Peninsula Gallery, presents a dozen eclectically composed paintings on stretched and unstretched canvas in a dawn-and-dusky palette, featuring wryly sensuous compositions of intimacy and display. In framing of the pieces as both theatrical and voyeuristic, Elrod aims to make the viewer complicit with the painter in the pleasure of looking. She succeeds.
Contributed by Jason Andrew / With her paintings fetching millions at auction, Shara Hughes has been on a tear. Since 2020, she has had nine solo shows, presenting work from Shanghai to London, Åalborg to Luzern, Aspen to Manhattan. All but three of the 17 paintings in her first show in Los Angeles, titled “Light the Dark” and presently up at David Kordansky Gallery, were made in 2023. Fueling Hughes’s remarkable pace is an unrelenting embrace of paint, with which she balances descriptive and imaginative motifs. Notwithstanding her commercial success, she retains a fearless approach to dismantling conventions, the paintings a cutting edge. As she noted in a 2020 interview, the more she attempts to control the creative direction in her paintings “the worse they are.”
October is a special month for Two Coats of Paint because we will be hosting our first annual Hudson Valley Gallery Crawl on October 14 and 15. More than thirty galleries are participating, offering an array of special events and activities. Please join Sharon Butler (publisher of Two Coats of […]