If Color Could Kill
Previously seen at:
Salena Gallery, Long Island University (LIU) Downtown Brooklyn
April 4-29, 2016
New Painting From New York City
Curated by Jeff Frederick
Abstract painting can be a color delivery device. But when does color become dangerous, even homicidal? If Color Could Kill imagines a world where color is power. The works of these eight painters say Yes in a way that is louder than everyday life. Modern pigments free the painter from the boring colors of nature. Are these paintings immodest? Too exuberant? Are they, like an eclipse, too powerful to be observed by the naked eye? This is color so intense it overwhelms and electrifies our fragile, vulnerable humanity.
The works in this exhibition are an astringent for the eyes, the way a loud rock song clears out your ears. They exceed the bounds of the polite and the well-behaved. With simultaneous and successive contrast, side-effects could start to appear long after the removal of the stimulus. Should these paintings come with a warning label? Experience their unabashed exaltation of color. Submit to their formal power, if you dare.
These eight artists, nurtured and challenged by the New York City art scene, are making what is in my opinion some of the finest painting being done in the world right now.
Paul Behnke’s paintings feature large, flat blocks of color contrasted with tiny eye-catching details. Complex polygons and triangles proliferate. Behnke uses color directly “from the jar” in order to preserve the intensity of his pigments. Perhaps inspired by the color field painters, he extends their language and complicates it.
Trudy Benson has perfected the prodigious accumulation of thick layers of paint, whether laid on with a roller or squeezed directly from the tube. Various graphic systems intersect in her work, from fuzzy airbrushed forms that soak into the canvas, to impasto slabs like frosting, to caulking-like lines that coalesce into drawn figures.
Patrick Berran’s work creates a tension between the atmospheric and the specific. Enlarged xeroxed details are transferred and overlaid in loosely symmetrical grids of hot and cold color. Simultaneously a screen, window, and door to the future, Berran’s images are an analog interface that unites the mechanical, natural, and hand-made.
Robert Otto Epstein applies a consistent palette of unmixed colors to found or devised patterns. His works are emblematic, suggesting the influence of roadside signs and comics. Knit textiles and video pixels also inform his imagery. Obliging color to conform to a system, Epstein highlights its joyous, expansive power.
Keltie Ferris builds up, with jagged rectangular shapes, landscape-like areas that look like zoom-ins on a giant LED screen. Clouds of color or spray-painted dots float on the surface. Fiery and buzzing, Ferris’ compositions are asymmetrical and engagingly unsettled. Dazzling linear systems are assembled from blocks and points.
Brooke Moyse’s paintings present not pictures of things, but painted things themselves. Shapes are embedded within one another or float, one on top of the other. Parallel lines and stripes suggest topographical contours. There is a lightness and clarity to Moyse’s work, but her forms and color refuse to be subdued.
Gary Petersen pushes the boundaries of hard-edge abstraction to include a humanizing and even comic element. Petersen exults in working with unusual, hard-to-name colors, which he juxtaposes within solid structures of rectangles and wedges. As visual R&D, his paintings could inform the plans for a city or a space station.
Craig Taylor is committed to discovering the never-before-seen image, with figures that are reminiscent of heads or monsters. His color is eye-peeling, his forms churning and unsmooth. The surfaces, accumulated from innumerable touches of paint, shimmer as they burn into our retina. Insistently mercurial, Taylor’s paintings are the opposite of a quick read.
Paul Behnke was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He has had solo exhibitions in New York City, Philadelphia, and Heidelberg as well as group shows in San Francisco, Honolulu, London, and Dublin. Behnke’s work has been reviewed in The New Criterion, Hyperallergic Weekend, and The New Republic. Behnke currently lives in New Jersey and maintains a studio in Brooklyn. paulbehnke.net
Trudy Benson was born in Richmond, Virginia, and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received her Masters of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute, New York. Benson had her first solo exhibition with Lisa Cooley in April 2015. Works by Benson are included in the collections of the Aïshti Foundation and Susan and Michael Hort. She has upcoming exhibitions at Galerie Bernard Ceysson, Luxembourg; and Half Gallery, New York. trudybenson.com
Patrick Berran lives and works in New York. He received his MFA from Hunter College. Solo exhibitions include Chapter NY, New York; White Columns, New York; South First Gallery, Brooklyn; and Thomas Robertello Gallery, Chicago. Berran’s work has been featured in exhibitions at M+B, Los Angeles, CA, Jack Hanley Gallery, NY; Gavin Brown Enterprise, NY; and iMOCA, Indianapolis, IN. chapter-ny.com
Robert Otto Epstein studied philosophy and political science at the University of Pittsburgh and law at the University of Durham in the UK. He has shown widely in the US and Europe. Epstein’s work is in the corporate collections of Facebook, The Big Human, and Fidelity Investments, to name a few. He currently lives and works just outside of New York City. robertottoepstein.com
Keltie Ferris lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated with a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and an MFA from the Yale School of Art. She has had recent solo exhibitions at the University Art Museum at SUNY Albany, New York; Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York; the Santa Monica Museum of Art, California; and an upcoming solo exhibition at Klemm’s, Berlin. miandn.com/artists/keltie-ferris/works/1/#3
Brooke Moyse's work is based on observations of nature, both real and imaged. She received an MFA from NYU and a BA from Bard College. She has exhibited at Loretta Howard Gallery, Kathryn Markel Gallery, Norte Maar, Storefront, Momenta art, and NYCAMS among others in New York. Tiger Strikes Asteroid in Philadelphia, David Klein Gallery in Bloomfield Hills, MI, and Sundaram Tagore Gallery in Singapore. brookemoyse.com
Gary Petersen's work has been exhibited widely in New York City and throughout the United States. It has been reviewed and featured in Art News, Art in America, The New York Times and The Boston Globe. His work is in several private and public collections including the Dallas Museum of Art and the US State Department. garypetersenart.com
Craig Taylor lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His work has been shown in the United States and internationally. He is represented by CB1 Gallery Los Angeles and is an Associate Professor of Painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. cb1gallery.com/project/craig-taylor
Jeff Frederick is an artist, writer, and curator based in New York City. He is a graduate of Vassar College, and received his MFA in Painting and Drawing from Brooklyn College (CUNY). He writes for Art In America and is a founder and co-editor of Wallscrawler.com. jefffrederick.net