KATHRYN MARKEL FINE ARTS PRESENTS ROUGH AND READY CURATED BY FRAN SHALOM New York Gallery 529 W 20th 6W
Rough and Ready Features work from Sophie Friedman-Pappas, Rachel Klinghoffer, Cyrilla Mozenter, Helen O’Leary, and Cordy Ryman
On View from September 16—October 23, 2021
NEW YORK, NY, September 16, 2021 | Kathryn Markel Fine Arts is pleased to present Rough and Ready, an exhibition curated by Fran Shalom with work by Sophie Friedman-Pappas, Rachel Klinghoffer, Cyrilla Mozenter, Helen O’Leary, and Cordy Ryman. The show accompanies Fran’s solo show, Groping for the Elephant, and will be up from September 16th to October 23rd. Fran has written about the concept behind the exhibition and about each artist below.
Rough and Ready:
I brought these five particular artists together because of the unique way they appropriate ordinary everyday materials and transform them into something visually surprising, emotionally fulfilling and ultimately, happily ambiguous.
Each artist has a specific intention that does not necessarily intersect with another, but in this show I am less interested in a thematic “why” but rather the “what” or the “how” they create the work. The process and outcome of each artist is singular and contemporary. The work is about painting, color, shape, texture, object, the world we live in, language, history, memories and the joy of making.
These artists construct, pull apart and put back together, re-imagining, un-doing and re-contextualizing materials that we see and use in our everyday lives and make us see them again in a fresh and distinctive way. I appreciate that shift in perspective.
I grew up in Manhattan’s Financial District, in a building shoehorned between the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Zuccotti Park (home of Occupy Wall Street). The Twin Towers’ tumble revealed my neighborhood’s disguised mutability early on, and since then I’ve understood both the impermanence and the novelty of these erections swollen with people and cash.
My work illustrates this indeterminacy of Manhattan’s lower half: I peel back its topography and draw what’s inside the city’s soil. Here, dirt isn’t just dirt. My sculptures come out of this mud. They are studded with debris that could be the rubble lying beneath Freshkills Park, Battery Park City, or FDR Drive: chewed-up dog toys, boiled rawhide, plastic bags, displaced gravel, vinegar-soaked eggs, flies stuck in a trap. Built of these often dissolvable and always disposable materials, my objects incorporate their own decay; they refuse to be adequately archived.
I make objects that are both paintings and sculptures. By repurposing materials, making and remaking them into paintings and sculptures, it prompts a reimagining of uses for these relic-like objects. Articles reflect the artist’s personal connection to femininity, craft- making, Judaism, romance, pushing the definition of painting. Through time, the items become specimens, icons. They are poked, prodded, stained, sprayed, stroked, rubbed, dipped, then pulled, torn, cracked open and broken apart making up and becoming the new work.
I hand stitch industrial wool felt to make freestanding and wall pieces in established processes that include the transplantation of cutout letters, letter-derived, and pictogram-like shapes. These shapes are cut out and then inlaid (and stitched) into position not unlike marquetry, requiring exactness. The stitching necessitates a devotional stitch-by-stitch attentiveness, causing unpredicted dimensional flare-ups that further animate the work.
The process of making my work is an adventure. I appreciate getting lost. I'm not interested if I know the way. If I don't know either the way or the ultimate destination, I have to be attentive to the subtlest clues that the process reveals. And to chance (help from the outside). I watch. What does the work want to be? What is it calling for me to do? Do I dare? What needs to be turned upside down, inside out or backwards? If I have pre-conceptions, I subvert them. I want to be surprised. I am, though, looking for a quality of inevitability. (A lawfulness.) That it couldn't have been any other way, given me and my materials in that space and time.
I knit with wood, bending the painting out of the ruin of its own making. Each piece is cobbled together from the detritus of earlier attempts. I build ‘history paintings’ that are created in the process of dismantling and redress. The back reveals, the fronts are cushioned with layers of linen, chalk, and layers of egg-tempera made from sourced pigment, with a steady confusion of demolition and re-building the pigmented surfaces of the evolving ‘history paintings’ find a shape. I think of these forms as the upholstery and bulge of middle age, blank places for new memory. Failure, paralysis, grief and ultimately self-determination have long been cyclical points on the wheel of my work. Unraveling, followed by reconstruction, is the course I navigate and I unpin mega-narratives and approach understanding in a human scale I can manage. I gather plants/earths for pigment production from my immediate geography and build re-calibrated multifunctional plinths. These reconstituted artifacts embody and amplify the splintered micro-narratives of the project. The inventory and archeology of memoir, place, histories, big and small, are exhibited together as a living museum.
Over the last several years a series of personal issues caused a pause and subsequent evaluation of all aspects of my life. I found my artistic practice had to be physically altered for a time. Upon this was overlaid the same crazy world event that caused much strife for so many other people. I found myself working at a smaller scale but at an increased pace. The most important thing for me was to continue my art practice and get the life-affirming spark that my process has always given me. I set myself up to “work” within certain parameters, and as I continued, I created dozens, then hundreds, of new paintings and entities. Working at this increased pace I noticed that the compositional elements and combinations that emerged were the same familiar friends that had cropped up for me hundreds of times over the last 25 years. Repeated stock moves, marks, swatches, strokes, crutches, symbols, motifs, totems, and deities emerged from my process without analysis. Seeing them together and recognizing the myriad branches that have grown significant and felt like home within my own personal journey was a profound comfort for me. There was a sense of evolution, maps, space, time, macro/micro, galaxies, universes, and individuals. No concrete statements but a confirmation of life, motion, time, and frozen time.
IMAGE CAPTIONS (L to R):
Max Zlotsky Seiler
ABOUT KATHRYN MARKEL FINE ARTS
At Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, we believe that significant contemporary art can be beautiful as well as visually and intellectually rigorous. We also believe that acquiring it should be a source of pleasure and self-discovery. To that end, since 1975, the gallery has exhibited a diverse group of artists united by hard-won craft, compelling intellectual framework, and a love of the art-making process.
New York City
529 W 20th St. 6W
Bridgehampton, NY 11032