Friday, November 08, 2013

Contemporary Romance

I've curated a new show, Contemporary Romance, at Frogman Gallery, my pop-up space at 23 E. Madison. It is a beauty. The show will have gallery hours Wednesday through Friday from noon to 6pm until the show closes November 29th. You can see more pictures at Frogman Here are some pictures from the install: 

And thank you Tyler for your beautiful writing:

You won’t find romance in an artist statement. But you might find it wandering the walls of Frogman Gallery. Simone Chagoya, Amanda Brown, and Stephanie Del Carpio offer their work as examples of art freed from the shabby conceptual frameworks that imperil both artist and viewer alike. Rather than provide a space for shocking political statements or hermetic swaths of postmodern abstraction, their work highlights the simple pleasures of urban isolation. Like the early 19th century Romantics, Chagoya, Brown, and Del Carpio suggest that loneliness is a necessary—and increasingly endangered—part of daily life. 

Simone Chagoya’s paintings are immediately charming. Her paintings feature bodiless clothes floating on blank backgrounds splayed out like preserved butterflies offering themselves for inspection. Sugary whites and lacy blacks greet the viewer like frosting on a cake. Chagoya invites viewers to populate the vacant clothing with their own stories and memories, urging us to find beauty and dignity in a humble pair of underpants. 

Amanda Brown’s paintings chronicle the unpeopled urban landscapes that can yield moments of sublime loneliness. Morning on Paulina shows a winter street scene dominated by a barren tree whose shadow appears like cracks upon the fa├žade of an unwelcoming building. It’s a building you might stare at every morning while waiting for the bus without even realizing it. Paulina Sideyard and Shell on York find claustrophobic parallel lines juxtaposed with small patches of organic forms—tiny moments of public solitude that let the mind wander. 

The first thing you notice when looking at Del Carpio’s paintings is that she renders the eyes of her subjects warmly and with care. Self-Portrait with Braid shows the artist expressionless and staring away from the viewer with her head slightly tilted as if in deep contemplation. The artist is alone with herself reminding us of the necessary solitude of artistic production. In Devon with Masks the subject stares directly at the viewer while standing next to a shelf bearing drama masks. These are the thoughtful women and men who people the desolate urban landscapes of Amanda Brown and the modest clothing of Simone Chagoya. We can’t know what they’re thinking or feeling, but the masks lay there daring us to try.

--Tyler Jagel

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