Thursday, January 17, 2008

"A Take on Tradition" curated by Jennifer Groves, January 17-March 1, 2008

"Yellow Squash", oil on canvas, Randall Mooers

"Aung San Suu Kyi, Green and Yellow", acrylic on canvas, DNA (Delgado/Almendral)

"Feet", charcoal on paper, Jeff Tocci

"A Take on Tradition", curated by Jennifer Groves, features 9 selected artists and their interpretations of enduring genres in representational art. The still life, the nude, and the portrait are among the themes consistently considered by contemporary artists today. Using a variety of techniques and mediums on these traditional themes, this survey includes the following artists: Renee Fineberg, DNA, Elisa Decker, Jeff Tocci, Gil Podorson, Jacques Zuccaire, Elinor Woolf, Randall Mooers, and David Schwartz.

During the period of the early nineteenth century, the still life had become a common subject among those who studied painting. Because of the sheer manipulability and utter compliance of the still-life model itself, the artist could completely control the setting. Absolutely nothing changed in the composition unless action was` taken by the artist. The likeness of the object(s) dominated, and captured a moment in space where time had seemed to stop. This is especially true in Randall Mooer’s still life paintings, whose seemingly unrelated strings, fruits, and plastic bags are so precisely displayed in the composition, there is no question that they belong with one another.

The nude in painting, sculpture, and later photography, was first presented in the iconic form of gods and goddesses. This was a depiction of figures for which the lack of clothing was the natural state. With the artist’s model, his/her nakedness is theatrically staged to imply an air of innocence. The objective is to convey the nude as being an anatomical study, rather than an erotic body. The nude studies of Renee Feinberg, through her detailed use of highlighting, concentrate on the positioning of the model’s body, the musculature in the pose, and a touch of the surrounding environment.

The painted portrait had been a favorite genre of artists of the Renaissance. Oils became the predominant painting medium, given their "workability" regarding detail, depth, brushstroke, etc. The idea of the portrait then expanded in size and subject to include group portraits and full length views. Then photography became another portrait medium that could create the illusion of reality. And 20th century Warhol “portraits” opened the door to a startling new set of criteria: arbitrary colors, flatness, abstraction, and repetition of the subject matter. DNA has successfully followed in Warhol’s footsteps with their signature portrait “characteristics”- the flatness of color(s), the black silhouette, and overall style of “design” rather than depiction. While Elisa Decker has taken the “portrait” and pushed the envelope, including photographic depictions of fruit as erotically charged subject matter!

There has always been an artist and an audience for the rendering of the nude figure, for the depiction of the portrait, for the particular arrangement of objects in still life composition. This attraction is based on the sheer beauty of such carefully created illusions!

And centuries later when these genres would become somewhat obscured, by circumstance and artists’ very natures, historical credibility would ground their appeal and continue to engage the audience.

“A Take on Tradition”
January 17th- March 1st, 2008
Franklin 54 Gallery
181 Christopher Street
New York, NY 10014
Thursday- Sunday 11-6pm & by appointment