28 Sep 2011

New paintings, Elizabeth Neel at Pillars Corrias, London

'When I was three years old, a fox raided the chicken coop on my parent’s farm. The site of the massacre was strewn with evidence of its swift violence. One particular bird had only been partially consumed - almost perfectly bisected in such a way that it’s entire reproductive system was revealed. I could see a series of stages beginning with a yolk and ending with a perfect, shelled egg within that body - fixed at the moment of death in pristine order. This visual experience represented a turning point in my relationship to the world. I now see it as my first clear instantiation that life, and nature underneath it, is a baroque, mysterious thing that hangs precariously on a framework of elegant reason.' 
                                                               Elizabeth Neel (Deitch)

Elizabeth Neel, 'Almanac' (2011, detail).
Photograph: Elizabeth Neel/Pilar Corrias Gallery/AP
Some intriguing works are on show at the Pillars Corrias Gallery, by the American artist Elizabeth Nee (and grandaughter of Alice Neel). There is a certain naivety to the paintings that are refreshing, what I mean by this is that there are some classic 'no-no's' from art school being totally ignored here, like using masking tape and to make it look like you are using masking tape. But there are some good exploratory works here that push paint around and produce interesting surfaces and juxtapositions of the picture plain's push and pull. Even though much of them are abstract paintings, there are also some that explore everyday domestic settings. 
Elizabeth Neel, 'The Grounds', 2011, Acrylic on Paper72.4 x 59.7 cm,  (c) Pillars Corrias
In these paintings there is an attempt at gravitas, at suggesting death, to me there remains a nihilistic quality, some of the paintings are based on real life disasters, there are the traces of Romanticism, of Abstract Expressionism and yet the Minimalism of Frank Stella and Ad Reinhardt..Already making a splash in New York, I think we have a future great artist here....

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