Andrea Belag, Shirley Jaffe, Alix Le Méléder, Sylvan Lionni, Julia Rommel, Patricia Treib, Stephen Westfall, Stanley Whitney
Thinking about this group show has been a little like launching a waking dream. The painters are all abstract artists who are working with hieratically presented planes of color. But the similarity between them seems to end right there. Some are brushy, even ecstatically gestural in their paint application, while others organize their compositions geometrically. There are hard edges and soft edges, younger painters and lifers, larger scaled compositions and compression, brilliant plumages of color and introspective tonalities. I don’t think any of these artists regard their work as cultural or aesthetic “production,” to use the deliberately lifeless term assigned by Frankfurt-schooled theorists. Rather, they celebrate the surprises their evolving languages of form-giving spring on them in the process of their unfolding. If anything, the cottage industry of the individual painter is a happily or grotesquely inefficient form of production. Sometimes both. These artists, like many others, will occasionally find in repetition an “accident,” or a surprise, that will attach and become another element of consciousness going forward. Thus, their imagery changes meaningfully over time, something like the slow forms described by George Kubler.
Seeing more than one work by each artist might leave a deeper impression of his or her individual sensibility while creating opportunities for felicitous constellations and across the room conversations akin to internal rhymes and alliterations in a poem. Eileen Myles once reminded me that “stanza” means “room” in Italian.
I have dreams of paintings installed in rooms. They are not paintings I recognize as mine upon waking, their image structures are invariably less defined, but the rooms themselves may jog a memory of other rooms I have been in: galleries, studios, museums, and raw spaces. Sometimes I think these are paintings I should be making, as if the dream was a directive from another. When I am struck by someone else’s paintings I experience a temporary and pleasurable sense of appropriation, for a moment I feel I made that painting. I mean I could have, if I had taken that path. Does anybody else feel like this? Or, doesn’t everybody?
So this is a collection of paintings, a glimpse of the sensibilities of the painters who made them, and an effort to see how they might hang together. A show like this is a structure that seeks to hold their differences together in order to form a coherent offering, a nostrum, a visual poem, if you will. Painting is dead, but the holly and ivy are twining together from out of the ground where it was buried. It’s spring, after all. Stephen Westfall
Andrea Belag lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She attended Boston University, Bard College, and The New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture. Her selected solo exhibitions include: in 2007, Vienna Blue, at the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art, PA, in 2003, 2002, 2000, and 1998, at Bill Maynes Gallery, NY, and 1994, 1993, & 1992 at Richard Anderson Fine Arts, NY. Her selected group exhibitions include: in 2010, Seeing Red, at Crossing Art, NY, and Oil & Water, at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, NY, in 2009, Ebb and Flow, at Mike Weiss Gallery, NY, and in 1997, No Small Feat: Investigations of the Shoe in Contemporary Art, at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago. Andrea’s work is a part of several public collections including, The Jewish Museum, NY, the Newark Museum, NJ, the Mead Museum, MA, the Sprengel Museum, Germany.
Shirley Jaffe was born in New Jersey in 1923. She has lived and worked in Paris since 1949. She received her MFA at Philips Art School in Washington DC in 1949. She has exhibited extensively, including several solo shows at New York’s Tibor de Nagy Gallery, as well as Galerie Nathalie Obadia, and Galerie Jean Fournier in Paris, among others. Shirley has had a solo show at several museums and not-for-profits; to name a few, in 2008 she exhibited at the FRAC Auvergne and Domaine de Kerguéhennec, in France, in 1999 at the Musee d’Art Moderne de Ceret, in 1995 at the Musee Matisse, Nice, in 1992 at Musee de Valence, and in 1989 at Artists Space, NY. She has also participated in many group exhibitions, including: in 2009, elles@centrepompidou, at Center Pompidou, Paris. Her work is a part of several public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the Musee de la Ville de Paris, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Alix Le Méléder was born in Paris in 1955. She lives and works in Paris. Alix graduated from the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris. She has been showing with Galerie Zürcher, Paris since 2004, with solo exhibitions in 2005, 2006, and 2008, and in 2010 at Zürcher Studio, NY. Other notable solo exhibitions include, Voir en peinture, at Le Plateau, Paris in 2003, and in 1999 at the Maison d’Art Contemporain Chaillioux, in Fresnes.
Sylvan Lionni was born in 1973 in Cuckfield, England. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Sylvan received his MFA from Bard College in 1998. His selected solo exhibitions include: in 2008 and 2007, at Freight + Volume, NY, and in 2005 and 2003, at Fusebox, Washington DC, as well as in 2001, at Rome Arts, Brooklyn. His selected group exhibitions include: in 2011, Paper A-Z, at Sue Scott Gallery, NY, in 2009, Under Control, at Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL, in 2008, Minus Space, at P.S. 1, Long Island City, NY, in 2000, Game On, at Sara Meltzer Gallery, NY, and in 1998, Hang Time, at White Columns, NY.
Julia Rommel was born in Salisbury, Maryland in 1980. She lives and works in New York. Julia received her MFA from the American University in 2005. She has participated in group shows at Bortolami Gallery, NY, and Connor Contemporary Art, Washington D.C.
Patricia Treib was born in 1979 in Saginaw, Michigan. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Patricia received her MFA from Columbia University in 2006. Her selected solo exhibitions include: in 2010, at Golden Gallery, Chicago, and in 2008, and 2007 at John Connelly Presents, NY. Her selected group exhibitions include: her forthcoming inclusion in Expanded Painting, at the Prague Biennale 5, and in 2009, Besides, With, Against, And Yet: Abstraction and the Ready-Made Gesture, curated by Debra Singer, at The Kitchen, NY, and also in 2009, The Open, at Deitch Studios, Long Island City, NY, as well as If the Dogs are Barking, at Artists Space, NY, in 2007, A New High in Getting Low, at Artnews Projects, Berlin, and in 2006, AIR, curated by Amy Sillman, at Monya Rowe Gallery, NY.
Stephen Westfall was born in 1953 in Schenectady, New York. He lives and works in New York, NY. Stephen received his MFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His selected solo exhibitions include: in 2011, American Abstract Artists, at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, in 2010, Pavimentazione sul Muro, at the American Academy, Rome, in 2008, 2006, 2003, 2001, and 1999, at Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., NY, in 2004, 1998, and 1997, at Galerie Zürcher, Paris. His selected group exhibitions include: in 2011, Paper A-Z, at Sue Scott Gallery, NY, in 2007, Written on the Wind: The Flag Project, at the Rubin Museum of Art, NY, in 2004, Anxiety, at The Painting Center, NY, curated by Davide Sharpe and Jimmy Wright, in 2002, 177th Annual Invitational Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture, at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, NY, and in 1999, Selected Work from the 1998-99 Manhattan Exhibition Season, at The Aldrich Art Museum of Contemporary Art, CT. Stephen’s work is a part of several public collections including the Albertina Museum, in Vienna, Austria, the Kemper Museum in Kansas City, MO, and the Rubin Museum, NY.
Stanley Whitney was born in 1946 in Philadelphia, PA. He lives and works in New York, NY & Parma, Italy. Stanley received his MFA from Yale University, in 1972. His selected solo exhibitions include: in 2010, at Team Gallery, NY, in 2009, 2007, and 2003, at Christine Koenig Gallery, in Vienna, Austria, in 2004, at A.A.M. (Architettura Arte Moderna), in Rome, Italy, in 2001, and in 1999, at Bill Maynes Gallery, NY. His selected group exhibitions include: in 2011, Two Colors, at Elisabeth Ivers Gallery, NY, in 2010, Ecstatic Structure, at Nerman MOCA, in Kansas City, and also in 2010, The Jewel Thief, at the Tang Museum, NY, in 2009, Cave Painting, curated by Bob Nickas, and in 2009, Infinite Patience: James Drake, Kunie Sigiura & Stanley Whitney, curated by Michael Rooks at Haunch of Venison, NY, and in 2008, Sparks, at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, in Kansas City.