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    Contemporary Painting @ Oakland University Gallery

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    Painting by Cecily Brown at the Oakland University Art Gallery

    Cecily Brown. Why Are There People Like Frank in the World, 2008-2009, oil on linen, 97 x 89 inches, 246.4 x 226.1 cm, © Cecily Brown. Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery, New York. Photograph by Robert McKeever

    The Oakland University Art Gallery features a survey of contemporary painters from New York galleries, and Toronto’s Olga Korper Gallery. Curated by director, Dick Goody, Idealizing the Imagery: Illusion and Invention in Contemporary Painting exhibits work from fourteen young artists living and working in New York City. In a world where contemporary art can include performance, conceptual, or video art, here stands a recommitment to painting derived from, as Goody says, “Both illusion and invention.” The work’s freshness demonstrates these artists may be too young to be influenced by the abstract expressionist work of the 1950’s.

    The Gagosian Gallery in New York City represents Cecily Brown, educated at the Slade School of London. Her large abstraction, Why Are There People Like Frank in the World, seems reminiscent of a mixture of Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler with a splash of Lee Krasner. The large oil on canvas could be a circus or a carnival where the expression of the artist has been acutely abstracted into minute shapes of color. The centrally staged painting plays a dominant role in the exhibition. “It’s about looking and what you get, allowing the imagery to shift and change.” she describes in the catalog.

    Pale Blue Dot by Trudy Benson

    Trudy Benson. Pale Blue Dot, 2011, acrylic, flashe, enamel, spray paint, and oil on canvas, 68 x 63 inches, 172.7 x 160 cm, Courtesy of the Artist and Mike Weiss Gallery, New York


    Trudy Benson’s
    work plays an equal role in the exhibit with large and commanding non-objective abstractions. The young American painter (born in 1985) creates a strong three-dimensional presence with layers of thick oil paint. Hung on a grid-like frame, elements up front, in the middle, and in the rear of Pale Blue Dot create an illusion of depth at a distance. Tooled massive paint strokes push the use of texture to the limit. The artist successfully combines acrylic, enamel, spray paint, and oil on canvas without fear. Ms. Benson received her MFA from the Pratt Institute of Art in New York City and is represented by the Mike Weiss Gallery. She says in the catalog, “I like using thick paint graphically, but it still has a physical presence. I like to create the virtual space, and then make a kind of armature, and then hang the thicker paint off it.”

    Painting by Wendy White

    Wendy White. Doyers & Pell, 2011, acrylic on canvas, wood, 79.5 x 121.5 inches, 201.0 x 308.6 cm, Courtesy of the Artist and Leo Koenig Inc., New York

    Represented by Leo Koenig Gallery in New York City, Wendy White successfully occupies the gallery space. The acrylic painting, Doyers & Pell, sits one-inch up off the gallery floor. Along one side and at the top of the painting rests neon looking, painted wood trim providing a stark contrast to the large graphically abstracted imagery. In the catalog she states, “My idea of the conceptual is very much the visual. I’m not somebody who has an idea for a painting and executes a painting. They’re very much a record of a moment, a period – three or four hours.”


    Exhibition runs through April 1, 2012. Open every day noon to 5pm, closed Mondays; open evenings during theatre performances. All events free. The gallery is next to Meadow Brook Theatre, on the Oakland University campus, Rochester, MI 48309, exit # 79 off I-75, (248) 370 3005.


    Ron Scott is a pseudonym for a writer based in the Detroit area.  View more articles by Ron Scott.


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