Little Languages / Coded Pictures

Artists Theresa Hackett and Michelle Weinberg curated Little Languages/Coded Pictures, installed at both Lesley Heller Workspace on the Lower East Side and at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in Chelsea. Works by more than twenty artists from New York, Miami, Ohioand Helsinki vibrate between abstraction and representation, using painterly vocabularies and idiosyncratic symbols.

Lesley Heller Workspace
52 Orchard St, NYC
March 16 – April 15, 2012
Opening Reception: Friday, March 16, 6 – 8pm
Gallery Hours: Wed – Sat 11am – 6pm, Sun 12 – 6pm
Mike Carroll, Allan Crockett, Julie Evans, Ron Gorchov, Theresa Hackett, Sharon Hovarth, David Humphrey, Margrit Lewczuk, Laura Newman, Jennifer Reeves, David Storey, Michelle Weinberg

Kathryn Markel Fine Arts
529 W 20 St #6W, NYC
March 15 – April 7, 2012
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 15, 6 – 8pm
Gallery Hours: Tues – Sat 11am – 6pm

Diane Ayott, Julie Davidow, Nancy Friedemann, Felice Grodin, Julie Gross, Theresa Hackett, Mary Jones, Sophy Naess, Marilla Palmer, Jennifer Sanchez, Yolanda Sanchez, Hal Saulson, Suzanne Ulrich, Kristiina Uusitalo, Chuck Webster, Michelle Weinberg, Charles Yuen

A painter creates a lexicon. A glossolalia of marks, swerves of the brush, scrapes, dabs, drips. An anthology of the painter’s experience is translated into pigmented pastes of varying transparencies and densities. Application of these little languages to the surface of a painting, builds a story, intimate or epic. Of space and time, of the weight of gravity and slipping free from gravity.

Pictorial space and logic is built of hermetic symbols created by the painter. One thing stands in for another. One gesture is surrogate for a single thing, or an entire range of experience. Learning to de-code the painting’s surface is part of the pleasure for the viewer.

Curators Theresa Hackett and Michelle Weinberg selected works from artists in New York, Miami, Ohio, and from as far-flung as Helsinki. Their criteria was painterly abstractions that courted narrative, pictures that vibrated on the edge of being and representing, constructed of idiosyncratic painting languages.

If we were to “read” these works, we would decipher varied vocabularies, such as Diane Ayott’s Criss Cross, which channels both the ancient mapping of aboriginal painting and pointillism. Julie Gross’s #144 is an interlocking puzzle of undulating color and form. Theresa Hackett’s work is about placement and arrangement with hidden geothermal undertones. Out of the splashesand dashes of color in Mary Jones’s Boulevardia the viewer gets glimpses of a passing subway car and other playful urban iconography.

Marilla Palmer’s ethereal arrangements enlighten the senses, and awaken memories.Sophy Naess’s Souvenirs is a journey into a soft colorful poolof rhythmic marks. Hal Saulson’s small paintings 2Hs and 3Hs are visual metronomes, pulsating and keeping their own time within their own self-described parameters. Suzanne Ulrich’s collaged grids of color engage themes that Ellsworth Kelly would recognize, with a gentle, light touch.Charles Yuen’s PlanetX projects figurative elements into the unexplored surface of the painting. Julie Davidow’s work begins with a painting by the artist Sarah Morris as a subtext for her pared-down abstractions created in layers. Nancy Friedemann makes delicate drawings in white on a deep, velvety black mylar surface that evoke transient sensations from nature, such as First Flakes Settling. Felice Grodin’s layered drawing Surface 1A describes speculative spaces composed of skeins of free-form, vibrating lines. Jennifer Sanchez’s ny1137 and ny1138 are serial works that derive from a grid-based structure in which she discovers new hue and scale relationships within the picture plane. Yolanda Sanchez’s lush brushwork creates vibrant fields of color, from which emerge expressive, organic forms. Kristiina Uusitalo’s painting practice freezes gestural marks in paint medium, inspired by her impressions of natural phenomena as in Five Minutes of Unfettered Joy 111. Chuck Webster crafts ideosyncratic images that resemble heraldic icons, like the biomorphic Satellite of Love. Michelle Weinberg fuses the sublimity of geometry with the vernacular of architecture and theatre.

A special thanks to graphic designer Dimitry Chamy of 2urn.comfor providing the exhibition graphic.