Ulterior Motif

Exhibition Dates: November 24, 2015 - December 19, 2015

Reception: Thursday, December 3, 6 - 8 pm

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The Painting Center is pleased to announce the exhibition Ulterior Motif in the Main Gallery and Project Room. Ulterior Motif, curated by Naomi Cohn, features thirteen artists who explore the language of pattern and art. This exhibition reassesses and repositions ornamental pattern as a primary carrier of meaning in a contemporary context. Pattern - fields composed of repeated motifs - is among humans’ earliest creations, employed independently as ornament and symbol in the applied arts of textiles, ceramics, and mosaics, and consistently incorporated into painting and sculpture. Its merit as a formal device was not questioned until the early 20th century when “progressive” tastemakers decided that ornamentation was “primitive and degenerate” (Adolph Loos, 1910). These provocations were influential in the emergence of reductive modernist movements that still hold sway in some quarters. Within the last couple of generations, many artists and theorists have reevaluated the functions, value and politics of “decoration”. Feminist theory examined and rejected dismissive traditional concepts of “women’s work”, as much applied art was deemed. This reconsideration led, in the 1970’s, to the “Pattern and Decoration” movement, which rejected the austerity of minimalism. The language of pattern/decoration and ornament entered contemporary discourse as one of many strategies for investigating a wide range of issues, including states of consciousness, spirituality, consumerism, and the social and cultural complexities of gender. The artists in this show touch upon these and many other themes. Their reinventions, disruptions and appropriations revitalize the language of pattern in resonant, imaginative and often humorous ways. Acknowledging layers of history and meaning, these artists raise questions about the intersection of art and design, revealing how age-old traditions can be reinvigorated for the present day.

Artists include: Linda Daniels, Anoka Faruqee, Hermine Ford, David Fratkin, Glenn Goldberg, Elisabeth Kley, Cal Lane, Jill Levine, Susan Mastrangelo, Colin Thomson, Susan Wanklyn, Max Warsh and Jessica Weiss.

View Catalogue: Ulterior Motif_Catalogue.pdf