Art June 1, 2010 By Jessica Lott

filler75 Victor Matthews

Victor Matthews in his Studio. Photography by Steven Lowy. All images courtesy of Wendt Gallery 2010. (Click to Enlarge)

Victor Matthews in his Studio. Photography by Steven Lowy. All artwork by Victor Matthews. Courtesy of Wendt Gallery 2010. (Click images to enlarge)

filler75 Victor Matthewsvicmatthews title Victor MatthewsThrough June 22, the Wendt Gallery in Midtown Manhattan is host to one of the more beautiful and intriguing shows of contemporary paintings you will find in the borough that is also its muse. Alter Ego Paintings brings together a series of large-scale canvases and smaller pastels by Victor Matthews, an artist who has been living and producing in Manhattan since the mid-’80s, alongside Warhol, Keith Haring, Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, and Clemente. The serenity and active simplicity of the paintings suggest not only Matthews’s rich artistic partnership with New York, but the way in which we all seek to be on intimate terms with the places we live in — especially this blaring and shaking city that keeps trying to re-make itself into something else.
     On a visual level there is a rightness to the way Matthews is using space that is unmistakable, an invisibly constructed symmetry and balance. The paintings have a Modernist sensibility. Set on a palate of white, the interplay between the textures of paint and the treated, raw-colored canvas is a harmonious and shifting affair, demarcated by a strong presence of the two-dimensional — of line. This is where the works begin, with an unchangeable, fluid drawing in wax pencil that is both conceived and created in the same moment. The artist doesn’t do studies, relying instead on a second-sense for both the beauty and the infinite possibilities in the bisecting of space. As Brice Marden has observed, Victor Matthews has “the line”.

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Art, Events March 23, 2010 By Jessica Lott

Kiki Smith  Annunciation, 2008  Cast aluminum Photo by: Joerg Lohse/ Courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York © Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith Annunciation, 2008. Photograph by Joerg Lohse/ All images courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York All Artwork © Kiki Smith

kikismith title Kiki Smith : on view now

Many Americans are well familiar with Kiki Smith, who came up on the latter end of feminism’s second wave as a member of the activist art collaborative Colab. She achieved prominence a decade later with her major New York exhibition in 1988. Now, at 56, she seems to be at the height of her career.
     For her most recent site-specific installation at the Brooklyn Museum, Smith takes as her inspiration a remarkable 18th-century needlework from the Federal period by a woman named Prudence Punderson, entitled The First, Second and Last Scene of Mortality. Read from right to left, the parlor room scene depicts three stages of a woman’s life: birth (symbolized by a cradle), adulthood, and death (a coffin). What is rare for a work of that period is that female adulthood is symbolized not by a domestic act, but a creative one — the central figure appears to be drawing. Also unusual is the prominent inclusion of the nursemaid, an enslaved woman of African descent, which raises issues of historical oppression that fall not just along gendered, but also racial lines, and the pressing need for individual as well as creative freedom.

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