Sunday, September 01, 2013

KIRSTEN MACY at Barry Whistler Gallery

Dead Men Stand In Line - 2012-13 - Oil enamel on canvas - 36 x36" repost of my article

Tragic, sublime beauty confronts you in Kirsten Macy's new work at Barry Whistler Gallery. In stark contrast to the festive, yet muted collaboration of Sunny Sliger and Marianne Newson. Typically, the colors from all these artists are glaringly bright, but a kind of monumental shift has occurred in Macy's work that has clearly influenced everyone involved in this exhibition.

I say shift, but this is only in the bright cheerful nature she once pursued, because these works hint to a painful event. The progressive lines of subtle whites, greys, and light purples are suddenly disrupted by an explosion of material. Only the mass blobs of paint feels like concussion, or maybe a visual representation of an explosion by someone with PTSD. The visual impact is enhanced by the dramatic inclusion of music which accompanies Macy’s paintings.

Because of the toned down pigments, I can’t help but think of Robert Ryman and his white paintings on brown canvas. However, Macy commands a great deal of control which seems to insist each mark must have absolute planning to be executed. Happy accidents might have occurred in the planning stages, but by the time these paintings were produced those moments have past. You must admire that level of craftsmanship in a piece that uses both organic and geometric elements.

Two groupings of small paintings had no eye popping explosions. Yet, these works also seemed to fit as moments before or after these event paintings. Like Proust eating a cookie, you get some 3000 pages of memories that happen in a moment; this exhibition shows Macy reliving, imagining, and remembering an event that occurred in a second, but carries on and on in the mind.

Sunny Sliger and Marianne Newson accost you as you drive up to the gallery. The streamers hang down almost to the point of feeling like a car wash. I was expecting Barry Whistler Gallery to sprout wheels and join a parade. Though mostly white, The Color Condition waves at you with a bright cheerful smile, yet somehow prepares you for the epic flashes of Kristen Macy’s paintings.

Unfortunately, this will be the last weekend of Sliger, Newson, and Macy. July 13th is the last day to see the two exhibitions. However, I understand the Dallas Museum of Art wants to display a piece by Kristen Macy in an up and coming show. So if you miss it at Barry Whistler Gallery you will get another opportunity, but in a different context.

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