Thursday, April 02, 2009

Artist of the Week (Revisited) 04/02/09

One of the most rewarding parts of trying to keep up with what artists are doing is having your assumptions challenged on a regular basis. Whether it's a new crop of younger artists shaking things up or a more established artist reaching deeper into that well of their experience and showing us something new and so gorgeous that we can't believe it wasn't always part of our life, there's no time for complacency in this business.

I had the exquisite pleasure the other day of visiting the new exhibition of an artist whose work I've known and enjoyed for years, but had no idea that she had been laying the groundwork for a virtual explosion of invention and positively voluptuous imagery. New York-based artist (and one of our dearest friends) Julie Evans was the artist of the week back in August 2005 (how long have I been at this now?). And while the work she was doing back then generated quite a bit of excitement (and sales), her latest body is undoubtedly the richest she's ever created.

You can catch Julie Evan's exhibition "Lesson from a Guinea Hen" at Julie Saul's gallery until April 11. I highly recommend it. I've posted fairly large images here (click to see them larger) because the details of these pieces are simply too yummy to not share.

Julie Evans, Lesson from a Guinea Hen # 2, 2008, mixed water based media and color pencil on paper, 22 x 30”. Image used with permission of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery.

As I noted in the first artist of the week post on Julie, her imagery is heavily influenced by Indian miniatures (she's spent quite a bit of time working and traveling through India). The press release for her current show explains:
Traditional Pahari or Rajasthani representations of trees, lotus, or water, as well as other natural forms of her own making, rise out of pools of loosely poured color and are painstakingly adorned in fine detail. She mediates the intentional with the intuitive, as well as the figurative and the abstract in these new works, which are markedly different from her earlier ones. Her all-over compositions and spirograph mandalas of the past have given way to central forms, generously surrounded by and floating in white, open space. They are more subdued in both color and mood, yet remain complex in a singular way as they quietly shimmer from mica particles in the paint.

Julie Evans, Ahmedabad Drawing (trees), 2008, acrylic and gouache on paper, 12 x 10”, Image used with permission of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery.

The thought that went through my mind as I viewed Julie's show (in addition to thinking she's been holding back on the sensuality quotient...these drawings are smokin' hot) was how sometimes an artist's accomplishments simply cannot be rushed. It can take just the right combination of life experiences, exposure to other ideas, and simply being in the right place at the right time for things to click. None of which may make sense to even the artist (or be particularly pleasant) at the time, but which definitely results in an eventual accomplishment that enriches our lives.

Julie Evans, Ahmedabad Drawing (crown) , 2008, acrylic and gouache on paper, 12 x 10”, Image used with permission of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery.

The shift to a more subdued palette in Julie's work seems to echo the global seriousness that the economic crisis has brought, but it started long before subprime mortgage or TARP were commonplace words in our collective vocabularies. I suspect that any artist exploring, as Julie does, the "connection between ornamentation and devotion" is bound eventually to find themselves delving a bit more deeply into the quieter aspects of life. None of which is to say there's not still room for the sort of celebratory vibrancy and joy of her earlier pieces (at least I still hope we'll be dancing and enjoying ourselves equally in the years to come), but somehow these works seem to touch upon the more serious tone we're hearing throughout the world. Mind you, that doesn't take away from how sensual they can be as serious as anything else life-affirming.

Julie Evans, Ahmedabad Drawing (garlands), 2008, acrylic and gouache on paper, 12 x 10”. Image used with permission of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery.

Julie Evans, Lesson from a Guinea Hen #1, 2008, mixed water based media and color pencil on paper, 22 x 30”. Image used with permission of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery.

There are plenty of other gems in this exhibition, but I want you to go see it if you can, so I'll leave it at these five. Don't miss the piece titled "Lesson from a Guinea Hen #5"'s positively delightful.



Blogger printtroll said...

Great pieces. Would love to see in person. I am willing to bet they loose a lot of richness.

4/02/2009 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Mery Lynn said...

I adore her work, completely adore it.

4/02/2009 12:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I rarely find myself liking the work you champion, but this is one of those rare instances.

Julie's work has always been beautiful, bouyant and ethereal. Her newest show continues in that vein, but adds 'elegance' to that list of descriptors. If her paintings were actors, the earlier works were "Meryl Streeps" or "Glenn Closes", but this new work has studied and graduated to become "Judi Denchs" or "Vanessa Redgraves".

4/02/2009 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Casp said...

Nifty. Well executed. Good statement. As small gifts they are
absolutely buyable.

The cloudy aspect insists on the technique and the medium (how it's made), while I would prefer if she filled the whole paper, so to focus on the thematic more than having it remind me that it's "only art". But the counter-argument is that they would loose the iconic aspect which is essential to its commentary (and perhaps indeed THEN, become "only art"?).

Some would argue it's unambitious. Depends where she wants her art to go.

Some would also accuse it of being appropriative. As an artist I have been exhausted by these accusations, so it's not going to come from me.

Cedric, That Darn Moronic Know-Little Critique

4/02/2009 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I rarely find myself liking the work you champion


This is minor, admittedly, and I should note I totally appreciate the wonderful analogy you make in responding to Julie's work, but cumulatively, the gratuitous swipes at the work I "champion" was part of why I stopped doing the "artist of the week" originally. They seemed always to come from anonymous commenters and, because of that, seemed always to be totally irrelevant in my opinion (if I can't make an assessment of your opinion's worth based on who you are, the fact that you generally don't like what I like is simply mind clutter) and eventually discouraging with regards to making the effort here. Your comment would have been so much more valuable without that caveat in my opinion.

4/02/2009 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger Marc Snyder said...

Her paintings are very beautiful.

I would love to see what she would do with litho crayons and tusche washes - the size, the beauty of the paper, the touch, the texture. . . seems like a natural fit.

4/02/2009 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger Bromo Ivory said...

I absolutely love this work - it has all of the heart and quiet beauty of a Frankenthaler unprimed canvas painting, but is entirely original and on a human, personal scale. (Not to get too poetic, but like a lovely thought whispered to you by a close friend)

I love the restart of the artist of the week. Good pick for a relaunch!

4/02/2009 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous A.K. said...

These are beautiful, technically, thematically, and conceptually. Thank you for allowing the click-to-enlarge option, which really helped. Works on paper often do not fare well in the translation to the screen, but these images were fab, right down to the deckled edges of the paper itself.

4/02/2009 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger nathaniel said...

gorgeous. a pick me up on a busy day. what a way to reboot the AOW - thank you.

4/02/2009 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

I agree, Ed: this is a lovely show. Indeed, when I post my own report in a few days, I'm going to link to yours.

In the meantime, re "the gratuitous swipes" from anonymous needlers, why not just decline to post the comments? Championing an artist is simply exercising your opinion in a big way. If you were a critic, you might need to be more circumspect, or at least less biased, but you're a gallerist with a point of view and a platform. Champion away, I say. It's part of why we love you.

4/02/2009 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

This artist uses several tropes I have seen in children's books and as such it "references" and embodies the kind of whimsy that I see there (even as children;s books reference Indian miniature painting and so on).

I think this whimsy is what many people are responding too as well as the "gorgeous" washes.

One pejrative is "precious" - which I refuse.

Frankenthaler used delicate washes and they functioned as a feminine to the masculine - where her paintings were heroic in scale and spontaneous in composition - to match the style of her peers, these works are smaller, more planned - denoting a more domesticated (less heroic/wild) appeal.

Bonsai speaks the Mountain Pine.
From the mountain

That I am anti-domestic and anti "sensitivity" is part of my "taste" so I hope you will understand that the whimsy and charm of these paintings is not lost on me while I yearn for a more untamed effort.

As a final critique, I do find the composition "unambitious" - I would like to see more complex compositional propositions - more risk - another stupid term that I refuse, and yet what else is there?

Is risk itself a delusion?

4/02/2009 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Sánchez said...

love her work, and have seen both shows at julie saul. loved #10!

4/02/2009 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous orangesrocks said...

Not a gratuitous swipe,don't think-but this looks too precious and pretty for me-too illustrational,even though abstact,too delicate.But always great to see what others like!

4/02/2009 09:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Sell Art Online said...

The work has such a tranquil quality to it. Thanks for sharing!

4/03/2009 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger jami said...

“precious” did you click to enlarge? They have that second impact where you say whoa!

4/03/2009 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Barbara Cowlin said...

If I could afford it, I'd jump on a plane and come to see this show! Thanks for making it possible for me to see it online, at least.

Your comment about artist's accomplishments over the span of a lifetime and how the various random events of life add up really spoke to me. It's something I've been thinking about a lot, looking back on struggles and roadblocks I've fought and realizing that while at the time, they seemed to be impediments to my progress as an artist, they certainly add to what I have to say.

This brings up the issue of ageism in the art world. I don't think enough appreciation is given to the depth that life experience gives to creative expression. Young artists are favored for their catchy approach, often leaving those with rich experience in the dust. Thank you for your acknowledgment of this in your comments about Julie Evans evolution as an artist.

4/03/2009 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger JD said...

Loved this show; congrats, Julie!

4/03/2009 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger ec said...

I cannot wait to see it--tomorrow! and have till April 11th!

In some ways, the images seem like a huge shift, an emptying, from the earlier paintings--and then, in another, they simply flow forward. Very excited to see them and thank you Ed for the post.

4/03/2009 11:21:00 PM  
Anonymous andy said...

those are really nice

4/03/2009 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Nina Ulana said...

I can't help being drawn to the vibrant colors and color combinations of her earlier pieces, yet at the same time, admire her use of open space and subdued colors in her recent pieces – beautiful, wonderfully sensual images. Thank you for featuring this artist. Seeing both works and reading both commentaries - inspirational.

4/04/2009 04:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Larry said...

Having read about this show here, I didn't want to miss it; and along with the (now unfortunately closed) Alyson Shotz wire-sculpture show at Derek Eller up the block from EW, this is one of the two shows that really "wowed" me on this past Saturday's trip to Chelsea. My particular favorite was Guinea Lessons #8, the iridescence of which does not come across at all on the JPEGs at Julie Saul's website. Beautiful stuff.

4/06/2009 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

This show is enough to force me into Chelsea with baby in tow, for the first time since she was born. For once we are in complete agreement about an artist's work, Ed.

And I, like Barbara, very much appreciate your comments about life experience enriching an artist's work. For me this is particularly true in painting; first comes technical mastery, then the depth of experience necessary to express something with that mastery. The process cannot be rushed.

4/06/2009 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger tony said...

"..............but somehow these works seem to touch upon the more serious tone we're hearing throughout the world."

Dear Edward, I can follow your appreciation of Julie Evans' work so far along the line but the above statement hit me like a road-block. What I get (JPegs only it's true) are very competent confections which could provide refuge from what passes for the real, & whilst that may have a value, I can't make the leap that allows me to perceive them as more 'actual'. Perhaps the floating of the images in a paper-white pond is partly responsible for my reaction.

4/08/2009 10:56:00 AM  

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