During the summer months, George Adams Gallery will present "Inside / Outisde", a two-part group exhibition in the main gallery. Part one, "Inside", surveys the representation of interior spaces and includes paintings by Jack Beal, Joan Brown, Amer Kobaslija, Andrew Lenaghan, and James Valerio. Part two, Outside, deals with landscapes and cityscapes and features paintings by James Barsness, Roy De Forest, Amer Kobaslija, Andrew Lenaghan, Joyce Treiman, and James Valerio, as well as a drawing and sculpture by Robert Arneson.
In addition to the general theme of interiors, the works included in the exhibition "Inside" make parallel inquiries into mark making, self-portraiture, and iconography. For example, both Jim Valerio and Amer Kobaslija in "Studio Exit" (2003) and "Janitor's Closet" (2007), respectively, depict a mopped floor, with the mop becoming an analogy for the painter's brush and the abstract swirls a reference to paint itself. The skewed perspective in Kobaslija's claustrophobic interior also resonates in Joan Brown's intersecting planes of patterned floor and figure in "Woman Waiting in a Theater Lobby" (1975), while Andrew Lenaghan's life-size self-portrait "Planet of the Apes II" (2007) and Jack Beal's "Self-Portrait with Rudbeckias and Daylillies" (1988) make use of mirrors as compositional devices.
A Closer Look at the Inside Exhibition at George Adams Gallery
by Janna Shapiro, Gallery Intern, Summer 2007
In the painting "Studio Exit," 2003, by James Valerio, the detailed composition leaves the viewer seeking further purpose behind the inclusion of a disparate group of objects: a fan, a mop, a hanging pink bag, a window pane, and a red exit sign above a white door. Painted with a straight forward view of a wall in the artist's studio, the hyper-realistic approach creates the possibility of an evolving space beyond the visible studio exit while the scale of the objects is not necessarily true to life. For instance, a mop at the center of the composition would appear much larger than the door looming behind it if the mop were placed upright. The result leaves the viewer questioning the reality and accuracy of the still life whilst showcasing Valerio's seemingly bare, cinderblock retreat in an unexpectedly intimate way.
In contrast, Amer Kobaslija's "Janitor's Closet II," 2007, includes angles and details not normally visible from natural visual boundaries. Kobaslija's gestural, deliberate marks create a claustrophobic perspective of this supply closet. He uses primary colors amidst the dark interior of the closet paired with a focal point at the sink drain viewed from an obscure elevated angle as a means of disorienting the viewer.
"Janitor's Closet II" is part of Kobaslija's series of three identical works painted consecutively in differing scales. Kobaslija painted this second work as a means of discovering new details about the space when shifting from a small-scale painting to a large-scale work 93 3/4 x 72 inches. Compared with Valerio's interior, the two works similarly feature tiled walls, cement floors and mops. Like Valerio's "Studio Exit", the presence of a mop suggests the possibility for its use as a paintbrush, a metaphor for the artist's first marks on a blank canvas.
Another of Kobaslijaâ's works, "Con Te Partiro II," 2007, is from his "Studio Paintings" series. The composition depicts Kobaslija's studio from a skewed angle, reminiscent of a surveillance camera. Inconsistent sizes and perspectives of objects accompanied by loose gestural brushstrokes induce a dizzying feeling as an oversized tripod and camera stare down the viewer.
Joan Brown's 1975 work entitled, "Woman Waiting in a Theater Lobby" exhibits a different aesthetic approach to the show's theme. The scene depicts a woman stiffly perched on a bright red bench, set against a busily patterned floor in muted secondary tones. Similar to the two previous interiors, Brown plays with perspective. Brown however, experiments with dimensions, extending the floor to encompass the majority of the canvas as she inserts a two-dimensional cartoon-like figure on to the surface. The woman, with her left elbow bent in a sphynx-like pose, is depicted wearing yellow heels and a distant expression.
The work is from a series often discussed in terms of Brown's biography. Her symbolic figuration is used as a story-telling device that questions mainstream definitions of femininity. Brown uses highly romanticized images to convey, more than likely, an instance during her life when she herself disappeared into the setting as her two-dimensional counterpart does in this piece. True to Brown's bravely defiant career and techniques, her seemingly straightforward and light-hearted narrative piece is unexpectedly dark.
The exhibition also features two paintings by Jack Beal, his 1964 work, "Still-Life with Chair and Overcoat" and his 1988 work, "Self-Portrait with Rudbeckias and Daylillies." The two compositions feature a warm palette, aggressive use of chiaroscuro, and strategically placed mirrors reflecting out of view surroundings and human figures.
In "Still-Life with Chair and Overcoat," Beal depicts a carefully composed scene of clothing and shoes strewn across a wooden chair and nearly camouflaging a dresser. Interestingly, just beyond this heap of everyday stuff, one sees a completely clear floor and radiator, and the reflection of another uncluttered space with two roaming figures outside the field of vision. The pile of clothing becomes the primary subject of interest, as well as, how the pile relates to the parts of the room that Beal doesn't include. His piece becomes a study of material goods and their relationship to the people that own them. When worn, these possessions express individuality. Collectively discarded in a heap however, they become lifeless and inconsequential to their owners. Beal uses a mirror here to reflect the figures' detached relationship to these ordinary objects.
Similarly, "Self-Portrait with Rudbeckias and Daylilies" equally draws attention to the objects that Beal places inside the field of vision and those he alludes to outside the depicted space. A vase of flowers sits atop a covered tabletop. A mirror reflecting the upper portion of Beal's face rests to its right. The inclusion of this reflection places the viewer not just in an observational role, but in Beal's exact position as he intently observes and paints this still life. The viewer is given instructions as to the level of scrutiny to view Beal's work by his facial expression. The discrepancy between wall colors in the composition in relation to the artist's reflection leave one questioning, once again, what lies outside the selected portion of this interior.
Like Jack Beal, Andrew Lenaghan uses mirrors as an important compositional device in "Coney Island Self Portrait" and his recent work, " Planet of the Apes, Self Portrait II." His unusually large-scale self-portrait positions the viewer directly in front of the figure in lieu of the mirror used to create the work. The masked artist stands in a confident if confrontational posture. Lenaghan uses minimal detail in favor of gestural brushstrokes on the interior; and draws the focus to the figure's face and the painting in progress to his left with selective sections of extreme detail. Lenaghan is entirely covered in the portrait with the exception of his eyes. Given this creative decision, the viewer can still sense palpable human emotion behind the mask.
Lenaghan's 2006 work "Coney Self Portrait" shows the artist using suggestive detail once again. The work, at a substantially smaller scale of 12 x 24 inches maintains the same loose brushwork as the 82 x 60 inch "Planet of the Apes, Self Portrait II." Similar to the latter work, "Coney Island Self Portrait" depicts only a small section of the artist's face, this time, in the reflection of the car's rear-view mirror. The self-portrait emerges from the details within the car's interior, including a plastic shark atop the dashboard and the subtly skewed perspective of the surrounding scenery of Coney Island viewed through a windshield and side view mirrors.
1. Andrew Lenaghan
Planet of the Apes Self Portrait II, 2007
Oil on linen
82 x 60 inches
2. Amer Kobaslija
Janitor's Closet II, 2007
Oil on panel
93 3/4 x 73 inches
3. Joan Brown
Woman Waiting in a Theater Lobby, 1975
Enamel on canvas
70 x 90 inches
4. Jack Beal
Still-Life with Chair and Overcoat, 1964
Oil on canvas
48 x 54 inches
5, Andrew Lenaghan
Self-Portrait in the Garret II, 2007
Oil on linen
82 x 60 inches
6. Andrew Lenaghan
Coney Self Portrait, 2006
Oil on panel
12 x 24 inches
7. Jack Beal
Self-portrait with Rudbeckieas and Daylilies, 1988
Oil on canvas
30 x 23 3/4 inches
8. James Valerio
Studio Exit, 2003
Oil on canvas
96 x 84 inches
In Front Window
Da Vinci Code II, 2006
Oil on panel
49 1/4 x 42 x 2 1/2 inches
Behind Reception Desk
Con Te Partiro II, 2007
Oil on panel
42 x 48 inches