Painting Structures: Specificity and Synthesis

Exhibition Dates: April 21, 2008 - May 16, 2008

Reception: Thursday, april 24, 6 - 8 PM

 Sharon Horvath

Sharon Horvath

 Yvonne Jacquette

Yvonne Jacquette

The Painting Center, New York is pleased to present Painting Structures: Specificity and Synthesis, an exhibition featuring the work of nationally known artists Rackstraw Downes, Yvonne Jacquette, Sarah McEneaney, David Kapp, Sharon Horvath, Stanley Lewis, and Kevin Wixted. 

The 7 artists represented in Painting Structures: Specificity and Synthesis move beyond the static or sentimental motif to reframe habits of seeing. These artists differ significantly in style, but they all carefully-even obsessively-explore built structures. Whether they depict grand skyscrapers, cathedrals, and baseball stadiums or utility poles, landfills, and underpasses, they return to certain sites or sources because they allow for a particular type of perceptual and compositional analysis. Harmonizing specific observation and imagination, Painting Structures reveals the poetry of the spaces we inhabit in body and spirit.

At one end of the spectrum, Rackstraw Downes represents the scenes he observes with the remarkable perceptual fidelity. He spends weeks and even months returning to a given location and waiting for the right conditions of weather and light to "get it right." Stanley Lewis also labors intensively and repeatedly at particular sites-usually in his home, yard, or neighborhood. Yet unlike Downes, who minimizes brushwork and expressive stylization, Lewis makes his long process of revision integral to his compositions-so much so that he builds up his surfaces to a relief-like density. Sarah McEneaney's autobiographical paintings of her home, neighborhood, and artistic journey explore the relationship between psychological narrative and perception. Like McEneaney, Yvonne Jacquette merges distinct viewpoints to create a composite structure of reality. Both artists also draw our attention to social and ethical issues embedded in commercial overdevelopment and waste. However, in contrast to the personal microcosms detailed by McEneaney, Jacquette presents a more detached and macrocosmic view.

Like Jacquette, David Kapp chooses elevated viewpoints to allow a greater fusion of abstraction and representation. Beginning with empirical observations, often made in his Soho neighborhood, his studio revisions distill unifying patterns from the frenzy of urban life. Two artists in the exhibition, Sharon Horvath and Kevin Wixted, seek initial inspiration from specific architectural sites and plans, but to an even greater extent, their subject is the invention and experimentation that takes place in the studio. In contrast to the other artists, they tend to work backward from studio experimentation to the specificity of remembered sources. This exhibition and the accompanying 20 page catalog are made possible through grants from the William J. Cooper Foundation and the Emily Mason and Wolf Kahn Foundation.

View Catalog: Painting Structures Andrea Packard.PDF