Friday, April 9, 2010

Fresh Look - Lucy Fradkin

Arthur goes to Washington, 2008
47 x 35 inches

I have been familiar with Lucy Fradkin's work for many years - mostly through her association with Kenise Barnes Fine Art Gallery in Larchmont NY. Recently, I was able to see her new work in an exhibition at Nancy Margolis Gallery in Chelsea, NYC (Lucy Fradkin: Family Tree on view through May 1, 2010).

Fradkin makes intuitive, neo-primitive, full frontal portraits of both archetypal and actual individuals. The subjects, stand/sit in the center of spaces that are frequently described with flattened tiled floors or rugs and free form & patterned wall papers, curtains and various accessories.  Objects sit, hang and float in these spaces and interact with the figures - frequently abstractly as well as pictorially.

An Awakening to Other
Orders of Reality, 2010
11 x 11 3/8 inches
In "An Awakening To Other Orders Of Reality" two trays, one with a floral pattern and one with a portrait are stacked behind and haloed around the head of the main figure. On either side of this totem are two squares that make window shapes and  silhouette a house plant frond on one side and a Red-tailed Hawk on the other. The figures in Fradkin's paintings are poignantly described with sensitive details and patterns  - a splayed hand on the chest or the turn of a foot showing us the heel of a shoe - a bow elaborately patterned, cocked to one side with a disorderly end. We see an abundance of detail in the midst of "simply" rendered figures allowing us to focus, play and ponder all the possible associations and rhythmic patterns and colors between the various elements in the paintings.

We also find seamlessly integrated collaged picture elements merged into her carefully painted scenes - it can be difficult to tell when objects are painted or collaged. The work at Nancy Margolis ranges in size - from human scale around 60 inches to smaller formats around 10-20 inches. Not surprisingly Fradkin moves easily between painting sizes as she often shifts scale within her compositions -  more often to signal the relative importance of an item than to create naturalistic space, even though there can be a dichotomy between these two reads.

The Pursuit of Knowledge
and the Practice of Ethical Conduct, 2009
22 x 18.5 inches
In "The Pursuit Of Knowledge And The Practice Of Ethical Conduct" we see an adolescent girl wearing a modest flat patterned plaid dress, white ankle socks and 'Mary Janes', standing demurely, one hand slightly crimped to the front, the other holding a satchel.  To both the right and left of the girl are images of small furniture, collaged into the scene and turned toward the girl. The space where girl and furniture stand is divided almost in half: on the bottom half - flattened tile covered by a semicircular rug section, edged with a leaf pattern on the border (a mountain to support the girl?) - and - on the top half,  above the girl is an open wall with a swag of hanging chinese lanterns that center themselves directly over the girls head and to her left and right.

Fradkin's thought provoking paintings are rich, quirky and often humorous, with a bittersweet, even nostalgic flavor. Get to Nancy Margolis while the show is still up or take a look at Fradkin's website

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Introduction to ImageArt

I have found many blogs and discussions that focus on abstract art. And believe me I'm a big fan of abstract art, but for the past 20 years I've been a painter of images.  In ImageArt we'll share discussions about the art and artists who give serious thought to images and imagery in their art - with all its implications - along with the formal, abstract and technical considerations. It is not my intention to separate art into segments. I think that most art contains abstract, formal, and even the subjective and connotative associations of imagery - it's a question of hierarchy and what takes precedence or drives creative choices. And while there is a wealth of discussion on abstract art in print and on the web there is a surprising lack of intelligent dialog about image based work. And so...

I will be introducing the reader to many artists, conducting interviews, and alerting you to various exhibitions. Additionally, there will be guest contributors /columns by other artists on subjects of their choosing.