From Life

Lennart Anderson Susanna Coffey Rackstraw Downes Anna Hostvedt Stanley Lewis Sangram Majumdar Sylvia Plimack Mangold Catherine Murphy Cindy Tower a group exhibition organized with Marshall Price November 14 - December 23, 2012

Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects presents From Life, a group exhibition organized with Marshall Price, curator at the National Academy of Art, featuring eleven paintings by artists who work from life as a central part of their practice. The artists in this exhibition construct observed spaces that investigate the complex relationship between perception, representation and time. As Marshall Price puts it, these artists collectively “illustrate that painting and drawing from direct observation remains a vital and vibrant part of artistic practice across several generations.”

Sangram Majumdar’s painting of a cut paper collage plays with the idea of painting a flat surface in a way that relates to Lois Dodd’s shadow silhouette of the painter at work.

Susanna Coffey’s closely rendered New Guinea yam cult mask confronts the viewer with the intensity of a face-to-face encounter, expanding upon her body of dramatic self-portraiture.

Sylvia Plimack Mangold established her vocabulary of observational realism in the 1960s in relation to concurrent thinking in minimalism and conceptualism. Plimack Mangold’s method of marking space with her depictions of rulers and masking tape on wood floors has influenced the subsequent work of Gideon Bok. Bok records the flow of people and objects in his studio. The environments he constructs are dense and expansive- layers of translucent paint enable the history of the painted surface to evolve in real time.

Catherine Murphy’s odd perspectives of daily life at first glance seem akin to photorealism, but are in fact the result of her obsessive observation of elaborately constructed and maintained set ups, involving people or household vignettes.

Like Bok, Cindy Tower’s paintings are saturated with visual stimuli. Situating herself in the midst of abandoned industrial interiors, she creates spaces that have an organic cartoon-like quality, as though at any moment her coils and wheels might spring to life.

Rackstraw Downes’s closely observed panoramic depictions of New York City and inland Texas push the envelope of painting from life. His use of perspective is thoroughly observational – rather than employing a rational conception of linear perspective, he structures his spaces with surprising horizon lines that bend in accordance with the human eye’s perception of space.

Stanley Lewis has similarly developed his own rigorous empirical system to painting the landscapes from observation. He works over prolonged periods of time building up thick impasto, almost enameled surfaces that he cuts up and pastes onto.

Lennart Anderson is a master of tone. His painting of a matchstick factory in Maine from the 1960s is structured with a subtle geometric poetry; the line of the river bank water and the diagonal of a conveyor belt align to create a subtle linear structure in the midst of a grey cloud-like atmosphere.

Anna Hostvedt’s precise paintings of parking lots feature subtle temperature shifts within an almost monochromatic palette. She creates spaces infused with a poetic detachment and a simultaneous flatness and depth.

Though the approaches these artists employ are diverse, they share a commitment to an intensity of looking and in the complexity of their processes each create paintings of diverse and profound dynamic range.