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Whitney Van Nes, Clippings

Larissa Goldston Gallery
551 West 21st Street, 212-206-7887
June 25 - August 7, 2009
Reception: Thursday, June 25, 6 - 8 PM
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Larissa Goldston Gallery is pleased to present Clippings, the gallery’s second solo exhibition of paintings by Whitney Van Nes. The work will be on view from Thursday, June 25 through Friday, August 7, 2009. There will be an opening reception for the artist on June 25 from 6 to 8 pm.

The paintings included in this exhibition are narrative portraits that recall the flatness and oddly elongated static figures of Byzantine art. Yet Van Nes’s unique aesthetic and iconography do not emulate any historical style — her approach is at once naïve and sophisticated. Van Nes paints from her imagination and her intimate personal knowledge of things, never drawing from found images, models or other visual references.

The ten paintings included in this exhibition are simultaneously autobiographical and universally relevant. While the images and narratives suggested in the work are drawn from the artist’s personal experiences, they serve merely as the impetus for the exploration of archetypal themes. One such issue prevalent in many of Van Nes’s paintings is the power struggle between authority and the subjugated. This adversity takes many forms, and Van Nes’s depictions of discontented figures leave the role of subjugator intentionally vague.

Van Nes’s fascination with the alchemic mysteries of creation and the human body serves as another fertile motif in this body of work. In the seminal painting Double Helix, a stack of nameless books spirals around and around like a model of DNA. In this work, Van Nes conflates the ideas of creation and struggle, describing how responses to difficulties shape personal and collective identities. As Van Nes says, “The most important part of ourselves is our story, how we choose to interpret it and to tell it. A life’s story is its DNA. Each book contains one such life.”

Whitney Van Nes was born in Connecticut in 1972. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn. She received her M.F.A . from the School of Visual Arts in 2005 and holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Oberlin College.
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