New CopenYork is the first, in what I hope to be a series of exhibitions that share the visual arts cultures of New York City and Copenhagen. Over time, Copenhagen-based Co-Curator Eric Prince of Prince Gallery CPH and I will reveal a small selection of the various styles, media and genres of our respective local contemporary art scenes beginning with this show at Galerie Protégé. We do this not to find similarities, even though we may stumble upon one from time to time, or are we attempting to create a cross continental dialog. Instead, we hope to uncover in one very overt and visual way what concerns or fascinates the artists of both cities enough to create art.
For this first exhibition I have selected works from the studios of Don Doe and Cecilia Whittaker-Doe, and Joseph Meloy and Jesse Pasca who are represented by Galerie Protégé. Don Doe is a master at mixing metaphors. His drawings, prints, paintings and collages comprise some of the most visually enticing, mesmerizing and at times perplexing narratives in contemporary art. The two paintings in this exhibition, Hunter Mountain Ski Coat Interrupts Still Life at Beach (2013) and History of America (2014-15) have sensual surfaces comprised of vibrant colors and slinky to savage brush strokes that stimulate the eye, while his narratives form substantial doubt in the sanity of his subjects. Whatever his intentions, Doe’s wild imaginings reside somewhere between the bizarreness of James Ensor and the cool kitsch of Francis Picabia.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe has a subtler, but no less perplexing approach to her subject. Here we see our contemporary landscape depicted as a ‘natural’ environment filled with anxiety inducing passages cooled by icy blues and deep greens. Red Tree (2015) and Within Itself (2015) are both stark reminders of the complexity and frailty of nature, while at the same time extolling its mystery and majesty. By filling her paintings with bold brush strokes, teasing textures and curious colors Whittaker-Doe greatly revitalizes the art of the landscape in a more pressing and psychological way.
Joseph Meloy is a muralist and mixed media artist who creates electrifying images that trigger the senses. His art is more of a subconscious realization of an idea or thing, than it is a fully realized or recognizable concept, yet there is enough there to convey a purposeful message of emotion, movement or mechanization. I see Meloy’s work as having a tinge of the Futurists’ obsession with new technology combined with the obsessive, totemic, biomorphic forms of Yves Tanguy seen through the filter of a New York City Street Artist. His three small works in the exhibition: Bubblegum Fantasy Configuration (2016), Fantasy Desert Configuration (2016) and Figure with Stick (2016) make for a trio of fantastical forms animated by some unknown, perpetual function that elicits wonder and foreboding.
Jesse Pasca’s two works on paper, The Chilling Warmth of the Binary (2016) and Parable: Great Joy the Ox (2011) have an odd, almost Post Apocalyptic take on our landscape that maintains a certain beauty in its rhythms. Like all great or not so great societies, there is an end or at least an edge that one might accidentally wander across into an uneasy place that elicits as much excitement as it does fear. Allowing one’s imagination to run wild, you can almost see the logic to it all, whereas Pasca’s Invention: A Sweater to Keep your Heart Warm (2011) is suggestive of the hopeless state of the human condition common to the Theatre of the Absurd. You might also look at this work as a symbol of comfort for a lonely or sad heart. In either instance, the humor is both dark and unconventional.
From Copenhagen, Eric Prince of Prince Gallery CPH has selected a very varied selection of works from the studios of Johannes Sivertsen, Helen Vestergaard, Anna Kristine Hvid Petersen and Kirstine Aarkrog. Johannes Siversten has the palette and sensibility of Giorgio Morandi as he uses very similar, near colorless grays and whites to capture his rather banal subject matter. However, this approach works quite well as his straight forward methods yield a very compelling array of socioemotional icons that are quite timely. Conversely, his paint application is controlled and retrained, leaving little and everything to the imagination.
Helen Vestergaard’s paintings have an overt otherworldliness. She gravitates to a multidimensional reality that is as visceral as it is visual, while her painting technique is expressive and reactive – a real battle between adding and taking away paint like a frenzied sculptor working with clay or wax. With regard to her subjects, which can range from biomorphic to banal, Vestergaard shows her true passion for the twisting narrative as she combines the recognizable with the bizarre in dreamlike field of active sensations.
Anna Kristine Hvid Petersen’s paintings border on the non-representation, yet there remains something of the botanical realm to communicate a subconscious thought with the viewer. Forms coil and cascade, colors control and propel and compositional elements collapse and overlap like the ever-changing undergrowth of a tropical forest. Her paint application varies between premeditated to instinctive while she maintains a certain level of ‘accidents’ to occur.
Kirstine Aarkrog is a multi-disciplinary artist who tests the limits of contemporary aesthetics. Her art, for this exhibition, is a product of a performance, something like the way Joseph Beuys once expanded the realm of art through performance art, theory and politics to break through social mores. With both Beuys and Aarkrog we have remnants, the objects left behind that recall an aspect of a event that can be endlessly relived or re-imagined.
New CopenYork opens at Galerie Protégé on Thursday, March 16 from 6-8pm. Regular gallery hours are, Monday: 10am - 6pm, Tuesday: 10am - 7:30pm, Wednesday: 10am - 6pm, Thursday: 10am - 7:30pm and Friday and Saturday: 10am - 6pm.