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From Life

Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects
208 Forsyth Street, 917-861-7312
East Village / Lower East Side
November 14 - December 23, 2012
Reception: Thursday, November 15, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

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.”

Price continues, “younger artists, many of whom matured during the period when digital culture emerged, choose to imbue painting from observation with generational hallmarks such as the information-rich works of Gideon Bok and Cindy Tower, or the once-removed aspect found in some of Sangram Majumdar’s paintings.”

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 Magnold 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.

In the rear gallery, SHFAP presents an installation of pastels by renowned Icelandic/American artist Louisa Mathiasdottir (1917 – 2000). A student of Hans Hofmann in the 1940s, she is known for her bold, highly-saturated landscapes of Icelandic animals, still lifes and self-portraits. The pastels in this exhibition are dramatic tableaux of fruits, vegetables and kitchen implements. In 2007 her still lifes were exhibited at the Hafnarborg in Iceland, along with those of Leland Bell, who was her husband.

Please contact Stephanie Ard at the gallery at or 917-861-7312 for further information
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