Extreme Possibilities: New Modernist Paradigms

Exhibition Dates: March 31, 2009 - April 25, 2009

Reception: Thursday, April 2, 6 - 8 pm

 Clay Ellis

Clay Ellis

 John Gibson

John Gibson

According to one definition, the course of modernism has involved each discipline’s gradually purging itself of everything not intrinsic to its medium until it arrived at its irreducible quality. By this account, modernist painting jettisoned illusionism and narrative to arrive at the irreducible fact of paint on a flat surface.

The work of the eight artists in this exhibition – Frances BarthClay EllisJohn GibsonJoseph MarioniMarjorie MinkinJill NathansonThomas Nozkowski, and Susan Roth – both affirms and challenges these assumptions. Their work blurs the boundaries between disciplines, ranging from declarative flatness to near-sculptural articulation of surface, from apparent lack of incident to rich illusionism, from mysterious allusions to physically forthright abstraction – and a good deal in between. Some combine apparently conflicting pictorial and spatial languages to imply wordless narratives, while others scrupulously avoid reference. All are inventive colorists and all believe that meaning is bound up with material presence.

These eight painters are all distinct individuals, with different backgrounds and formations as artists. Collectively, their work broadens the definition of what painting can be and creates new paradigms that make inherited categories not only unhelpful, but also irrelevant. They are all indebted to the modernist tradition yet they refuse to be constrained by its inherited values. As a result, their work enlarges its domain.