Friday July 24-August 11
1940 Dana Ave.
Opening July 24 7:00pm-9:00pm
Boom Gallery is proud to present new works by Elise Thompson and Nathan Weikert, two painters from the Cincinnati area who have moved from figurative to abstract approaches to painting. Weikert lives and works in Cincinnati and is a recent recipient of the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award. Thompson is currently pursuing an MFA at in Florida Sate University and is a current artist in residence at Boom Gallery.
Amiable Strangers explores the tension between knowing and not knowing, revealing and concealing, and masculine and feminine. Thompson and Weikert find themselves both within and without the tradition of American Abstract Expressionism; present are the bold splashes of color, broad confident brush strokes, subtle references to the figure on human-scale. However, each artist presents paintings that are more precariously balanced, literally and otherwise.
Some of Thompson’s paintings hang on the wall. Some works extend onto the floor or lean on themselves in unlikely ways, extending critic Harold Rosenberg’s observation about the canvas as “an arena in which to act.” For Thompson, it is not only the picture plane but the explosion of the picture plane into the space of the gallery that becomes the discoverable event. One might thus call these arrangements of paint-things “Action Installation”. But unlike post-World War II painters who embraced the heroically firm, Thompson’s works can be humble, delicate and feminine, making use of hesitant moments while forgoing canvas for unconventional translucent materials such as Chiffon. These objects act simultaneously as paintings, containers and sculptures.
Weikert’s work, however, can be positioned more squarely among abstract expressionism’s forerunners. In Painting and Its Others: In the Realm of the Feminine, (Arts Magazine, 1991) Shirley Kaneda contrasts hard-edge intellectual painters like Barnett Neuman with painters like Mark Rothko. By Kaneda’s estimation, Mark Rothko created more feminine paintings, portraying existence as ephemeral, allowing himself to be engulfed by the “horrors of existence” rather than objectifying and intellectualizing pain. Weikert, too, has given his canvases a foreboding, unresolved atmosphere that envelop the viewer through the use of layers of stormy grays.
Abstract painting continues to be reframed and reimagined. But unlike the artists of the 1950’s, contemporary artists must imagine the arenas of canvas, gallery, studio and world as a more complex space where for better or for worse, problems can no longer be framed as simply good and evil. Actions are events and theater, amiable strangers may be lovers. Our contemporary allies and axises are twisted and muddled gradients of masculine and feminine, white and non-white, trans and bi. That’s a good thing.