|Untitled (reminiscent of Gulliver's Travels).|
Getting any flesh ideas?
Brooklyn artist Grace Markman is. She sees her paint
itself as an almost biological thing, which she uses to
explore the body inside and out on canvas.
By JOSHUA TANZER
Grace Markman is quite charitable about letting you decide for yourself what you see in her paintings. The painting above looks something like a large ham, or maybe a large intestine, surrounded by little thumbs and being carefully examined by a large squarish, um, caterpillar?
Well, that's my impression. Markman sees it as a kind of "Gulliver's Travels" scene, with Lilliputian figures crowding around a prostrate giant that's landed in their midst. Regardless of how you interpret it, the painting is typical of what the Brooklyn artist has been working on lately: shapes with indefinite but obviously biological associations, combining in various ways, a kind of vocabulary of the flesh.
|Paintings by: Grace Markman.|
Related links: Official site
| April 24 - May 23, 2004|
Opening reception: April 24, 2004, 3-5 p.m.
Gallery: Holland Tunnel Art Projects
61 South 3rd St.
Phone: (718) 384-5738
This carnal connection is no accident it's part of the work from beginning to end, says Markman. "The work is metaphor for body, metaphor for working and struggling through flesh," she explains.
"Painting is about touch, it's about feel, it's about taking something viscous . . . that's coming out of a tube," she adds, squeezing a dollop of scarlet paint onto her finger and smearing it across her palm. It could almost be blood, meat, clay. "Some people say it's almost like fecal matter. And you're rearranging this and you're asking it to hold meaning."
Certain shapes recur frequently in Markman's paintings, especially the little lollipop shapes that float through many of the scenes. "These forms are penises and nipples and fingers pointing," she says. As in the Gulliver painting, they are often watching and prodding the other shapes, inquisitive perhaps like the artist herself about their meaning.
|Grace Markman seated with her work.|| |
There's a big one of these protuberances in the painting "Tilt" (left) which could easily be a blatant image of sex, though it could just as well be a baby's pacifier. Or why not both? Markman sees it as a study in motion, as the circular pink miasma swirls and the little fingers hover like bees around the scene. The bold swaths of red and blue represent the aesthetic direction she hopes to move in from here more paint, more canvas, more space, more time.
More time, in fact, is the key to Markman's vision of art in the digital age. Painting and looking at paintings are slow processes. Compare that with today's high-tech Web sites or rapid-fire, in-your-face TV commercials. "They're about making you not think" by moving so quickly that they bypass the conscious mind and get straight into the subconscious, she says, not without admiration for the craft. Painting, an art form from a slower-paced era, can help fight "visual illiteracy" by forcing people to slow down, look more deeply and give more thought to what they see, Markman says.|
"We're never going to be just digital dots. That's part of us now, and I think it's wonderful, but . . . we're missing the body," Markman says.
"Painting can still hold dreams; it can still hold what we are."
|JUNE 12, 2000|
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