Featuring fifteen artists and an incendiary press release that decries what it sees as the preeminence of “soulless” and “anemic” abstraction, “New Image Painting” at Shane Campbell Gallery is a stinging riposte to the kind of contemporary abstract painting that merely serves as “a placeholder for value” and “needs to get out of the way.” In its place, the show presents an alternative vision of art’s recent past that locates figuration and personal narrative front and center.
Many of the thirty paintings on display are self-consciously “bad” in the sense that multiple artists’ seek spatial and proportional “incorrectness” as a means of arriving at visual authenticity. Henry Taylor’s “Where are my brothers keepers” and Torey Thornton’s “Barged Gator” are ham-fisted in their depiction of figures, boats and busses. But their superficial clumsiness, which can be traced back to Matisse via Guston, belies a compositional sophistication that is studied and—paradoxically—abstract. Similarly, William J. O’Brien’s playful works on paper trade in the kind of frenzied “my kid could do that” aesthetic that baffles casual viewers, but delights connoisseurs of gestural abstraction. Read the rest of this entry »