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Whitney Van Nes, Kings Highway

Larissa Goldston Gallery
551 West 21st Street, 212-206-7887
January 6 - February 10, 2007
Reception: Saturday, January 6, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

The paintings included in this exhibition are narrative portraits that recall the flatness of Byzantine icons, with oddly elongated features reminiscent of mannerism. Yet Van Nes’ unique aesthetic does not emulate any historical style – it is at once naïf and sophisticated.

Van Nes approaches the content of her paintings almost as a novelist, building characters and narratives. Painting only from her imagination – never found images, models or other visual references – her work nonetheless betrays other sources, often literary. “I don’t look at references of what I’m depicting. I want to always get at what only I know of something.”

A voracious reader of novels, Van Nes is often inspired by nineteenth and early twentieth century literature’s frequent humanist concerns. At the same time, her fascination with the small mysteries of everyday life is conveyed in the visual representation of people interacting with nature, each other and their own thoughts. “Mystery exists: in the moment of a gesture and in the color of a shirt next to the color of a wall… in the air around a leaf.”

Often the people in my paintings seem goaded by compulsions. They have irresistible urges to connect – with each other, themselves, nature, and the viewer. They express repressed feelings through gestures that are beyond explanation, but are somehow necessary, almost ritualistic.
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