CONTEMPORARY WATERCOLOR, Morgan Lehman Gallery, NYC
Curated by Veronica Roberts (July 12 – August 17, 2012)
In Chelsea, during the summer, an exhibition of contemporary watercolors set out to change the way that we look at the watercolor medium. “Starting with the premise that the medium has suffered from perceptions ——Watercolor has been saddled with a bad rap. It hasn’t even earned the status of being uncool enough to be cool. With its history as a preferred medium of amateur painters, watercolor is all too easily overlooked or disparaged for its frequent association with trivial subjects and saccharine clichés.”
This exhibition demonstrates the impressive range of contemporary artists who are engaging the medium in compelling ways. The exhibition features a group of both emerging and established artists from around the country and abroad who approach watercolor in diverse, often political ways that move beyond, and often deliberately subvert, the medium’s traditional links to ‘plein air’ landscapes.
Contemporary Watercolor was curated by Veronica Roberts, a New York-based curator. Her recent exhibitions include Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt at the Craig F. Starr Gallery, New York (2011) and Lee Bontecou: All Freedom in Every Sense at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010).
Works in the show encompass a broad range of other interests and approaches to watercolor.
Kelly Inouye depicts iconic characters from the television sitcoms she grew up with during the 1970s and 1980s.
In On Patrol (2012), she loosely conjures Ponch and Jon from CHiPs, harnessing the nostalgic potential of the medium, while underscoring how few details are necessary to create a recognizable portrait of a famous person.
Russell Crotty and Mark Fox transform watercolor into a sculptural medium. Nicole Phungrasamee Fein, Sam Messenger, Laurie Reid, and Nick Terry present rigorous abstractions steeped in history of minimalism.
Brooklyn artist Firelei Báez, for example, focuses on representations of race and gender in her work, looking at the politics surrounding the female body, hair, and clothing among women of the African Diaspora, in particular.
Her life-size portrait, Demetrea (2010-11) depicts a woman of Jamaican and Haitian descent in an elaborate headdress made of vulture feathers, striking a self-assured, regal pose. Part of a larger series called Geographic Delay, the series celebrates the women of diverse ages, body types, and heritages who process in Brooklyn’s annual West Indian Parade to celebrate Carnival.
Together with works by other artists in the show, Contemporary Watercolor demonstrates the fresh and wide-ranging ways artists are animating this overlooked medium in the 21st century.
The Artists Included:
Works by: Firelei Báez, Laura Ball, Errol Barron, Ben Blatt, Nina Bovasso, Sarah Cain, Mark Chamberlain, Emilie Clark, Russell Crotty, Nicole Phungrasamee Fein, Mark Fox, Orly Genger, Cliff Hengst, Kelly Inouye, Kysa Johnson, Aubrey Learner, Ellen Lesperance, Carey Maxon, Kim McCarty, Sam Messenger, Aaron Morse, Amy Park, James Sterling Pitt, William Powhida, David Rathman, Laurie Reid, Maki Tamura, Nick Terry, and Julia von Eichel.
The following galleries lent work to this exhibition: ACME./Los Angeles, Ambach and Rice/Los Angeles, Anthony Meier Fine Arts/San Francisco, CRG/New York, Davidson Contemporary/New York, Eli Ridgway Gallery/San Francisco, Gallery Joe/Philadelphia, Halsey McKay Gallery/East Hampton, James Harris Gallery/Seattle, Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts/New York, Larissa Goldston Gallery/New York, Mulherin + Pollard/New York, Postmasters Gallery/New York, and Stephen Wirtz Gallery/San Francisco
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