RISD 2014 MFA Painting Thesis

RISD 2014 MFA Painting Thesis

May 22 – June 14, 2014

We’re a Happy Family by Dike Blair, 05/13/14

Nancy Margolis Gallery is pleased to announce the Rhode Island School of Design’s MFA Painting Thesis exhibition will be on view May 22 through June 14, 2014. The artist reception will take place on Thursday, June 5th from 6–8pm. This is a show of ten young artists who spent their last two years together in Providence, RI, pursuing Master’s degrees in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design. Superficially, that’s about all they have in common. But as I thought about what might bind them, or differentiate them from previous years’ graduates, I realized they share a particular attitude toward art history that feels a little new.

All artists choose the art historical eras, styles and territories that they internalize and from which they explore. But often that inheritance or influence feels burdensome; the parent that has to be denied, misunderstood, killed, etc. To a person, this group of artists has a certain sense of ease with their chosen influences and histories; I feel less friction, almost as if they’re part of a happy family (!). What this attitude toward their forebears seems to allow is the usage of relatively traditional painting materials and formats to pursue their ends. Almost all paint on canvas or board, and the exceptions still employ fairly traditional means. What I find wonderful is that working within the traditions of painting, they open up some really exciting vistas into places we can see through fresh and younger eyes.

David Aipperspach. The digital and especially the screen underlie Aipperspach’s updated takes on lyrical abstraction. Camouflage patterns and day-glo colors meld with tasty painterly moves. The paintings have formal rigor, one that might allow their designs to move easily between a canvas and a skateboard deck.

Amna Asghar makes single installations comprised of multiple, silk screen and painted canvasses. Historically she moves from a Warholian, Pop place, into strategies of appropriation and identity politics, to finally end up making—or re-mixing might be more accurate—things that evoke a kind of global pop, a melding of her Pakistani and American heritage, but that also feel diaristic and deeply personal.

Lyla Duey paints from life, in oil, on smallish canvases. Her still life paintings have recently been of fabrics—shirts, sheets, underwear, etc. The images are not strictly figurative, yet they always contain some kind of evidence or trace of a human presence and/or event. The paintings are mysteriously narrative and share something with forensic photographs, or maybe film noir.

Kyle Hittmeier. There is a little mystery about the authorship of Hittmeier’s paintings of things that look like neo-fascist monuments; and his plans for architectural follies located on far off archipelagos feel like parts rescued from a deep past or returned from a sci-fi future.

Danielle Kiser’s abstract expressions eschew angst and unnecessary labor and emit something like breezy Matisse or, maybe, languid Joan Mitchell. Recently she’s making dresses out of her painted silk, allowing for the paintings to join the body and the world.

Tommy Mishima’s paintings are disturbing reflections of America’s cultural iconography, while also being embedded with occult symbols from older, and often extinct, cultures. Lit with a chartreuse glow, the paintings hit creepy paranoid major chords and sexually perverse minor ones.

Sophia Narrett’s embroidery scenes draw the viewer into miniature stages on which narratives that feel like they may have sprung from the Decadent Movement or, possibly, Eyes Wide Shut, are enacted. Their detail is mesmerizing.

Amanda Nedham’s images (dogs, tubs, chainsaws) feel like nouns, she employs her media (photography, sculpture, drawing) as verbs. She constructs things that feel like macabre poems or, perhaps, comic exquisite corpses—I feel an odd confluence of comedy and death in her work.

Reesa Wood works between the poles of opticality and physicality. Her unusual mix brings both Agnes Martin and Sol Lewitt to mind, and then she reconciles them in a curious way. Her works are an odd combination of humanistic geometry and spiritual handmade-ness.

Andrew Woolbright’s paeans to his love have a slightly rotten Rococo scent. Magnolia garlands, or boas, or contrails, weave through time machine portals in a series of ambitious and baroque paintings that would shiver Watteau and Boucher’s timbers.
Dike Blair, 05/13/14