A celebration of paint, Luscious investigates the myriad ways in which artists make conscious statements of painterly intent. Fully in command of their medium, these artists believe in the beauty of paint itself. They explore and exploit its materiality, pushing technique to the edge. In some paintings the hand of the artist is evident in open, energetic brushwork and expressive mark making. In others the smooth, precise surface leaves the viewer wondering how the work was made.
Images range from figurative to purely abstract and, yes, two artists paint food—luscious, lip-licking, sugary confections. But in an exhibition devoted to the materiality of paint, abstraction reigns. Material provides both form and content. The painted surfaces vary from thin veneers to thick impasto, from lacquered caverns to gossamer veils. Paint has been brushed, daubed, sprayed, poured, or thrown. Viewing these works is not only a visual experience but also a visceral one. Without touching the paintings, we understand and respond to their tactility, and in some cases, their appeal to our other senses.
Emily Eveleth paints monumental doughnuts. She renders their sugar glaze in sheer washes of white paint atop the golden mounds, while deep pools of color ooze jelly-like from their centers. Rosalie Ripaldi Shane paints decorated cupcakes to scale, their frosted tops thick with swirls of saturated colors that would make any pastry chef proud.
The landscape painters in this exhibit approach their venerable genre in entirely different ways. Trees and an oxbow anchor Michael Abrams’s composition. His landscape, more about atmosphere than vista, appears to glow from within, as if light were gathering before us in real time. Tim Allen filters light through trees, casting it onto them by juxtaposing the colors of sky and foliage. Intersecting branches form cells where pools of paint converge to create a shimmering, saturated blue sky. Joseph Diggs uses landscape as a scaffold on which to play with paint. His abstract vista includes a hilltop, a gorge, and a body of water in a complicated composition employing many mark making techniques. Claire Sherman depicts twigs with bold, assured slashes of paint, transforming these tiny landscape fragments into the monumentality of an entire forest.
Valerie Jaudon’s work is at once spare and complex, conceptual and sensual. Curves of pure white paint meander over a mere hint of color. The starkness of white is broken only by the grooves of brushstrokes. In contrast, the work of Lauren Olitski captures the energy and passion of its making. Olitski pours, drips, spatters, brushes, and sprays paint across the surface, giving it the quality of sculptural relief.
Pouring layer after layer of color, Holton Rower makes sculpture from paint. The plasticity of his paint is reminiscent of Turkish toffee, each color retaining the stretched pattern of its flow, from pour to pool on the ground. Maureen McQuillan’s painting of undulating streams of color rippling beneath a smooth-as-glass surface suggests a freshly opened box of ribbon candy.
Free-form areas in pearlescent hues appear to bloom on the surface of Darren Waterston’s chromatically muted painting, calling to mind the shifting eddies of iridescent color in an oily puddle. By contrast, James Lecce suspends color and movement below a taut surface. Swirls of saturated cinnabar, carmine, white, and black, along with metallic-flecked gold hark back to Florentine marbled paper.
The optical effect of Daniel Hill’s wiggly-line bilateral symmetries almost overwhelms the quality of the polymer emulsion he squeezes through a cone-tipped bottle. The glossy black and translucent blue paint look like they are still wet. Mia Scheffey’s painting is a dense field of swooping brushstrokes, glancing lines, and dripping swaths. Her abstraction embodies the dance between materials and maker. It is a paean to paint and painting.
— Mara Williams, Chief Curator