OBJECTS OF DESIRE

 

OBJECTS OF DESIRE
Group Exhibition at Bernaducci Gallery

Gallerist Frank Bernarducci has spent the past several years working toward understanding what the artworks that interest him have in common with one another. As his vision came into focus, he called the type of art he meant New Precisionism. The term nods to his career in showing Photorealism, while also stating forthrightly that he has moved on to something new. He may still show photorealists, but not because their work is photorealistic. 

Bernarducci Gallery’s summer group show Objects of Desire showcases Bernarducci using one of his primary tools – curation – to focus and shape what he means by New Precisionism. He has stated that he remains interested in highly-rendered realism, but not as an end in itself. In a sense, he has tired of the materialism which tends to dominate hyper-representation. He is seeking realism which serves as a substrate for the spiritual; spiritual imagery which finds its home in realism, not realism which may or may not include a spiritual element.

He has had an intuition that the work he sought would tend toward close examination of individual objects, iconically portrayed in the centers of simple compositions. This idiom would support an artist’s gaze of such intensity that the material surface of the world would crack and that transcendence he is craving would shine through.

The show largely adheres to this program. As a practical matter, it embraces not only a variety of compositional schemes, but also a variety of approaches to painting, some of them much more painterly than viewers familiar with Bernarducci’s history as a gallerist might expect.

Standouts from a show full of standouts include:

Objects of Desire
Bernarducci Gallery
bernarduccigallery.com
Jun 14th – Jul 17th
525 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10001

Dianne Gall
If I Am Not Perfect By Tomorrow | oil on canvas | 54”x54” | 2018

Dianne Gall
If I Am Not Perfect By Tomorrow

Gall has the cinematic eye of a Douglas Sirk, matching the heightened emotionalism of a scene with saturated, eye-popping colors. After years of studying her complex compositions online, the real surprise of seeing her work in person is the idiosyncratic paint handling. It is neither loose and brushy, nor finicky and precise. Rather, it is highly stylized, at a scale that computers are ill-equipped to reproduce. The coat and hair are depicted with sharp and zany marks, while the floor and wall drop off into a total flatness of application. This dimension of composition – the rhythm of marks – is only visible in person, and makes the painting vibrate with eccentric life.


Alyssa Monks
I Said No | oil on linen | 20”x34” | 2018

Alyssa Monks
I Said No

It would be possible to analyze this painting in terms of the narrative which results from the interplay of the title, the figure, and the tense, wiry branches which overlay the image. But I’d like to approach it in terms of the arc of Monks’s work. She has spent years developing and refining the set of tools she uses here: the wet figure, the flesh pressed against glass, the overlapping images, the aggressive, thickly applied paint. They have become second nature to her, and this painting, to my eye, finds them evolving toward something else. I am reminded of the evolution of Piet Mondrian’s paintings of trees. They started out realistic, but as he became proficient, he tired of the straight depiction of a tree. His work curled inward; no longer defining itself in relation to the thing it represented, it became an exploration of the language and tools of depiction.

 

He teased apart the sets of shapes and patterns he used to depict trunk and branches, pushing each element toward a more purely formal manifestation. Ultimately, he shook himself loose of representation altogether. He generated paintings based entirely on the internal logic of his own means of artmaking, refining and purifying until he reached those eternal rectilinear compositions. I see the early stages of this in-turning in Monks’s painting. A weirdness has crept into the shape and distribution of the branches, a kind of formal rigor separate from nature, while the figure has flattened and generalized into an indication of a figure. I don’t know if I’m seeing a real direction here or chance qualities of the piece being shown; either way, it’s a striking piece of art.

 

 

Sylvia Maier
The Word Became Flesh

This is probably my favorite of Maier’s paintings. She has simplified and refined her imagery into a forceful, lonely portrait. It owes a lot to Velazquez: its monochromatic browns, enormous amount of headroom, simple, dignified, and direct figure, and above all its loose, confident paint handling.

 

Sylvia Maier
The Word Became Flesh | oil on canvas | 48”x24” | 2018

 

 

Bo Bartlett
Natural Selection | oil on panel | 17”x17” | 2010

Bo Bartlett
Natural Selection

I can scarcely describe to you how satisfying this painting is in person. Sometimes an artist just nails it. There’s no anticipating it, no controlling it, and no repeating it on demand. A lot of being a good artist involves being the kind of artist who happens to nail it on a fairly regular basis. Bartlett has nailed it here. Everything about this composition is just right. The arrangement of fruit in the bowl, the distribution of elements on the canvas, and the prudent use of Morandi’s tools: restricted color, frontal lighting, soft rendering, centered value range, and sparely placed linear darks and highlights. The incredible rightness of this painting is dazzling to behold.

 

 

Mario Robinson
Cruiser

I think we get closest here to a painting demonstrating what Bernarducci is getting at with New Precisionism. The rendering is precise but it is not overemphasized. The object is central and the composition is simple. It has something of Andrew Wyeth’s sense of color and weather. The spiritual quality is foregrounded: the shed blocks our view of the sea. The composition blocks our view of the light source. The scenario blocks our view of the bicycle rider. Every element of the image makes us desire another element missing from the image. The bicycle is depicted as a vivid real object, but it is the focus of a narrative of absence. At the same time, the absence does not force us into a state of abject craving. The color and atmosphere of the painting advise us to be calm, to appreciate what is available, even if it is very little. An air of the numinous suffuses this strangely empty image. 

 
  Mario Robinson   Cruiser  | watercolor on paper | 22.25” x 18” | 2016

Mario Robinson
Cruiser | watercolor on paper | 22.25” x 18” | 2016

 

 
 

Objects of Desire
Bernarducci Gallery
bernarduccigallery.com
Jun 14th – Jul 17th
525 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10001