Titled after a lyric lifted from The Jam’s “Going Underground,” Shout for Tomorrow echoes the song’s insistent urging to stay true to one’s beliefs and not get swept up in an overwhelming zeitgeist. This pointed group exhibition presents the work of seven contemporary artists for whom the established meanings of representation and figuration are no longer fixed. Each of these artists has committed to their individual visions of what figuration means, often using the figure to explore the more abstract qualities of painting: texture, color, physicality, and materiality. Shout for Tomorrow brings together a diverse group of artists whose work encourages us to reconsider what representational painting means today.
For Katherine Bradford and Bendix Harms, their loose handling of the paint is inherently linked to the visual narrative of the painting. The figures disappear into daubs of paint just as much as the tableau emerges from materials. This seemingly contradictory stance makes the work come alive – allowing it to move between painting and picture. Consider their work in relation to Freddie Brice’s “Black Interior” and one finds this tendency is bound to both insider and outsider art. Brice, a self-taught artist, painted the objects of his life with such an intensity that one feels, as well as sees, his urgency.
Satirically updating classical depictions of women at the bath, Gladys Nilsson’s painted scenes of aging female bathers are littered with cutouts from fashion magazines and art history textbooks. These watercolor and collage works offer a semi-autobiographical narrative that is as witty as it is honest. Donald Baechler has explored the deconstruction of painting and image for decades. His bronze sculpture of a vase with flowers is no different. By keeping the sculpture flat, at a mere 12 inches deep, and giving it a painterly surface, Baechler seems to have taken the still life out of the painting on the wall and placed it in the same space as the viewer. The
piece operates as both sculpture and painting, as image and object; creating an ambiguity that invites consideration.
Michael Berryhill’s enigmatic portraits and interiors purposefully collapse the picture plane into paintings that share the qualities of all-over abstraction and of pattern-based abstraction. It is his palette of high-key color that pushes the images forward, visually vibrating off the wall. Conversely, Andy Mister achieves a similar collapse through the reduction of color. By working in black on a periwinkle-toned background, his flattened translation of the crowd at Woodstock overwhelms the composition. The multitude of eyes in the crowd fixated expectantly on the viewer.
Brad Hajzak is an independent curator based in New Haven, Connecticut.
Shout for Tomorrow opens on Thursday, May 5 and runs through Friday, June 17, 2016. Located in the landmark Crown Building at the world-famous corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, Hirschl & Adler Modern is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 9:30 am to 5:15 pm. Beginning on Tuesday, May 31, the gallery moves to its summer hours of Monday through Friday, 9:30 am to 5:15 pm.
For additional information or images, contact Shelley Farmer, Director, or Ted Holland, Exhibition Coordinator, at 212-535-8810 (phone) / 212-772-7237 (fax), or by email at shelleyf@HirschlAndAdler.com or tedh@HirschlAndAdler.com. Please visit our website at www.HirschlAndAdler.com for an online preview of the exhibition.