After visiting CANADA, and the Tribeca Galleries, a lot of the Upper East Side Galleries felt stifling and too commercial. It was clear that the intended audience probably differed from many other galleries and locations we had visited. A lot of the art did not feel inspiring, but rather served as a symbol of the skill of the artist, rather than promoting an important issue or idea. However, a lot of the work did resonate with me. I think it is important to see all of these galleries because they help contextualize the New York art scene and show how each gallery operates.
I found Henry Taylor’s exhibition at Blum and Poe to be worthwhile. He is very skilled in his painterly style, and the compositions of his pieces were thoughtfully developed. I found myself focusing on the eyes of the subjects of the paintings. They seemed to divert and engage the viewer simultaneously which kept me captivated. Taylor focuses on racial inequality, poverty, and the importance of family and community in his work. I found this particular quote by the artist to make the context of this body of work even more relevant: “My paintings are what I see around me…they are my landscape paintings.” In learning this, it is evident that there is a level of closeness and even a psychological investigation within Taylor’s work. Taylor also plays with the distortion on how we perceive the subjects, and the internal turmoil emanating from the subjects themselves. I read Taylor’s “In Conversation” with Laura Hoptman in The Brooklyn Rail and discovered that time often plays an important role in the result of his work. In one instance, Taylor said a painting took a mere two hours to execute. I think, after learning this, that I can see the quickness of the brushstrokes that creates a sort-of fractured sense of light, space, and depth within the work. It is further logical that time and speed plays a part in his work because he is often working from observing people in local and fast-paced environments, such as on the train.
Marian Goodman gallery was different than most of the spaces of this day as well. The architecture felt industrial and slightly cold and dark. I was astounded by just how much space was in the gallery as well, which did not seem to make complete sense to me because the works on the wall seemed to get lost within the room. It was interesting to hear Jessie Washburne-Harris discuss the gallery, and to learn of her own successes and struggles with owning a gallery and then serving as Director at Marian Goodman. Learning abut the financial goals of a major gallery, such as Marian Goodman, which is international and has locations in New York, Paris, and London, as well as art-fairs afforded me a new perspective on the business-side of art.
My favorite part of the day was visiting Anton Kern Gallery. Aliza Nisenbaum’s show Coreografías, was on view, and I immediately gravitated towards her use of bright color and texture in her paintings. These paintings felt very energetic and there was a strong sense of movement within them. I enjoyed how Nisenbaum experimented with busy textiles and neon colors in clothing of figures and in the setting, yet the works did not feel overwhelming. I felt like I was part of many of the scenes, but also felt like I walking into something intimate as a viewer in other of the works. On the second floor of the gallery, it was cool to see the plans for the paintings that were featured on the first floor. I felt like I could really understand on a deeper level the process that Nisenbaum considered when developing this body of work. I thought the group portraits were really well developed. Every section of the painting made sense on its own, and yet came together to promote an overall discussion on the concept of individual people and the individual’s role in a community. I found myself visually cropping the picture and focusing on the narrative amongst different people in the painting. I thought about how if one person was not featured, the overall balance of the work might have been shifted completely. Nisenbaum’s work focuses on her identity as a Mexican-born and New-York based activist painter and her interest in investigating important issues like feminism, immigration and community.
I think Taylor’s and Nisenbaum’s work creates an interesting conversation with each other. Although they both use portraiture, their works are completely distinct. I think it was interesting to see both of these shows in the same day because I felt myself comparing and contrasting the different ways ordinary people can be used as subjects. It reiterated to me the notion that everyone sees the world in their own way and that art is fluid and subjective based on one’s perceptions.