Four Paintings at Regina Rex
The walls of Regina Rex have been taken over by four large, brightly-colored paintings, with luscious layers of thick and thin paint and most with elements of pure black. The paintings in the exhibition, Four Paintings (on view through June 3rd), are the kind of hate-it-or-love-it guilty pleasure that arouses a gut reaction and a tip-of-your-tongue familiarity. The gallery deems this an "unapologetic and visceral appeal to the viewer." It’s an interesting question, which I think Regina Rex is trying to ask: for what do these have to apologize? - Read the full review by NYC Contributor, Whitney Kimball, after the jump!
Looking counter-clockwise around the room, first Jackie Gendel’s tbt: two nudes in what looks like a leafy, glittering interior. They particularly evoke a Belle Epoque setting, flatness, and composition. The figurative lines borrow from Matisse and Lautrec, and tropical, patchwork colors of Gauguin or Bonnard.
Next is Juan Gomez's Canta el Satin-- fat, bodily strokes against black. The painting reminds me a lot of a sidewalk artist's pictograms of some one's name, abstracted and blown-up. Fan-like marks make leafy shapes, and the squiggles are smooth and effortless. "That's a smart move," another gallery goer remarked. He hovered his hands over the painting in exactly the way I had been moving my eye, on the hips of an invisible figure skater-- tracing the brushy figure 8s, and stopping short on the edge of his blade. In the background, black bleeds close in around pockets of stained color.
Britta Deardorff's fiery colored square Caldera is caked at least an inch thick all over, and it's more graphic, with clear compartments of shape. The acrobatic wrist is gone, as is the illusionistic space.
Britta Deardorff | Caldera, 2010, acrylic, sawdust, caulking, encaustic and newspaper on canvas, 68 x 60 in
Last is Eric Sall's (NAP #74) pure, beautiful abstraction, Eastern Northeastern, in which thick paint is applied over iridescent washes. Each color heightens the next. Streaks of paint sit on the surface like flags of toothpaste. An authoritative black oval is stamped in the center of the image. I wouldn’t put these in an abstract expressionist camp; like Gomez’s, there’s a photographic, calculated illusionism makes them look magically impressionistic at first and less interesting upon further inspection.
Thorough enjoyment of the paint process is quickly overcome with the skepticism that I recognized in the faces of the two other viewers in the room, who were already having this conversation: "I guess I'm looking at it from an intellectual point of view,” one was saying, "but I've seen it before, and I don't know if it's saying anything." I had to jump in. We all agreed that, on one hand, they're extraordinarily beautiful and difficult to make; on the other, we’d seen similar versions of this before, and we didn’t trust the seductive packaging. I got the feeling that these are trying to sell me something that I immediately liked: the same reason that I like flowers, but not stock photos of flowers.
The question being asked, then, is of our own taste. Succumbing feels gluttonous. Rejecting them makes you feel like the stick-in-the-mud dad in the Apple Jacks commercial, who can’t grasp the concept of liking something because you like it. These aren’t changing any minds (not mine, at least), but they’re not really asking. And that’s just fine.
Britta Deardorff was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1983 and currently lives in New York City. She received a BFA in painting from Ohio University in 2005 and an MFA from Hunter College in 2011 where she also was the recipient of the Tony Smith Award.
Jackie Gendel lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Recent solo shows include Fables in Slang at Bryan Miller Gallery in Houston, and Rose Madder and the Ultramarines, at Jeff Bailey, in NY. Gendel has participated in numerous residencies including the MacDowell Colony, Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Space Program.
Juan Gomez was born in 1970 in Bogota, Colombia. Gomez received a BFA in Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He has exhibited his work at CUE Art Foundation, Feature, Inc., Massimo Audiello, Art in General, Lombard-Freid Projects, Momenta Art and The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.
Eric Sall was born in Sioux Falls, SD. Recent exhibitions include Brain Factory, Seoul, Korea; Nerman Museum of Fine Arts, Overland Park, KS; and Bemis Art Center, Omaha, NE. He received a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Eric lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He was featured in New American Paintings, #74.
Whitney Kimball is a New York-based painter and art writer.