Monday, October 21, 2013

STADIA: New Work by Anne Sherwood Pundyk

Anne Sherwood Pundyk, "Self-taught," 2013, 63" x 60", Oil and Acrylic on Linen

PRESS RELEASE                                                                     
October 21, 2013                                                                               

STADIA:  New Work by Anne Sherwood Pundyk
November 7 – December 31, 2013
Opening: November 7, 6–8 pm

Susan Eley Fine Art  
46 West 90th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY
or email:

Tuesday – Thursday, 11 – 5 pm and by appointment

Susan Eley Fine Art is pleased to present “Stadia,” a solo exhibition of works by Anne Sherwood Pundyk. This personal work was made concurrently with the artist’s participation in several large, collaborative and site-specific projects. Pundyk’s new body of work was shaped by these recent experiences outside her studio, engaging directly with other artists and her audience. Working within expanded formats -- in academic settings and private galleries, a public commercial space and through co-creating a feminist art publication – underscored for the artist the importance of defining her own position. Most importantly, asserting and testing her ideas on these platforms confirmed where her subjective voice connected to a collective consciousness. A short profile of the artist, produced by The Tribeca Film Institute, shows her recent studio and installation work (Link to video here).

In “Stadia” over 25 works will be shown including oil paintings on linen and paper, watercolor and collage on paper, video, books and a gallery-specific installation. In the larger works, Pundyk transmits her experience within a painterly proscenium; her angular unbroken applications of paint frame layered, avian brushstrokes of saturated color. Embedded in the overlaid string of figuratively intended images within each painting are the artist’s own essential stories. Pundyk’s hunch that these narratives merge with older, archetypal stories was confirmed in her collaborative projects. For example in “Rapunzel in the Library,” at Queens College Art Center in 2012, she lead 22 other artists, writers, and performers in a contemporary retelling to the fairytale.

Two site-specific projects honed Pundyk’s studio practice by bringing the artist’s engagement with her audience to the forefront: “Parallax Painting,” at Panepinto Galleries in Jersey City, in 2012, and this year’s “RENTED WORLD,” at the Mave Hotel in Manhattan. Critic Charles Kessler observed about “Parallax Painting, “By creating a wallpaper-like background for her paintings, Pundyk transformed this large, Chelsea-style space into a congenial environment — a more private, almost residential, space that allows you to slowly savor this rich work.” In contrast, her installation, “RENTED WORLD,” situated in a “non-art” mid-town commercial space challenged the status quo. According to cultural theorist, Viola K. Timm, when walking by Pundyk’s unexpected, glass enclosed, prismatic arrangement of paintings, “…The passerby encounters the supplemental form of her or his own shadow, setting off the childhood monsters of the modern “rented” world.” Most recently, Pundyk has co-created with multi-disciplined artist Bianca Casady of the musical duo, CocoRosie, a new feminist arts magazine, “Girls Against God,” (published by Capricious .) Through this collaboration, she has further strengthened her intuitive powers by selecting and presenting stories and artwork that challenge restrictive and destructive social structures.
In this exhibition at SEFA, Pundyk explores the nuances of her visual vocabulary in smaller works on paper. Blue and white watercolors of female figures from her “Bodily Fluids” series respond to core feelings such as vulnerability, disorientation, joy or relief. Pundyk’s book-page paintings layer found and original typewritten text and watercolor imagery over white washed pages from a contemporary novel. The artist’s “Adoptions” watercolor series isolates a dual framework (derived from the structures created in “RENTED WORLD”) suggesting the changeability of her audience’s perspective. Pundyk’s found photographic source material is reworked for her videos. For this exhibition, her video piece, “Object Classification,” a vintage trio of black and white monitors silently transmits three concurrent loops of original content. “Remember” a book made from a whitewashed road atlas -- a pre-smartphone relic -- is a yearlong meditation on the force defining the stage of Modernism: nuclear power.                        

Curator Helen A. Harrison wrote in a Guild Hall Museum catalogue essay in 1988 “…[Pundyk’s] work suggests that understanding requires another interpretive tool, or perhaps a personal surrender to a deeper, less accessible, level of cognition.” Since then, over the last 25 years, the artist has developed her practice, showing her work internationally. Recent exhibitions include Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice, Italy; The Wand Gallery, Berlin, Germany; The Meltdown Festival, London, England; MoMA Library, New York, NY; Panepinto Galleries, Jersey City, NJ; The Brucennial 2012, New York, NY; Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Queens College Art Center, New York, NY; Fordham University, New York, NY; Exit Art, New York, NY; Susan Eley Fine Art, New York; NY, Art Miami, Miami, FL; The Philoctetes Center, New York; NY; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA; and Washington & Lee University, Lexington, VA.  This fall, with “GAG,” she was invited by Creative Time and The Brooklyn Museum to perform as part of Suzanne Lacy’s large scale feminist project, “Between the Door and the Street;” and the launch of the 2nd issue of GAG will be held at MoMA PS1 this coming January.    
Pundyk’s work is included in corporate, institutional and private collections here and abroad including Luciano Benetton Foundation, Milan Italy; Equity Residental, New York, NY; Barclay’s Bank, New York, NY; State Street Bank, Boston, MA; Glamorise Foundations, Inc., New York, NY; television journalist, Katie Couric, York, NY; Anthony Grant, Sotheby's Contemporary Art, Rye, NY; and the late painter Cy Twombly, Rome, Italy. She has taught at Fordham University and lectured at Printed Matter, Manhattan Marymount College, Sotheby's Art Institute; and at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, VA. She was granted The William Steeple Davis Fellowship, a year-long painting residency in Orient, NY. In addition to editorial role in “Girls Against God,” Pundyk is a freelance art writer and curator; contributing to The Brooklyn Rail, Art in America, ArtUS, Broadway + Thresher and she maintains a blog about contemporary art. She hold a BA in Fine Art from Pomona College, Claremont, CA and an MFA in painting from RISD. 

Events related to the exhibition to be held in the gallery include:

November 11, 6-8 pm. A group discussion of current feminist issues related to “Girls Against God,” with co-editors Anne Sherwood Pundyk, Bianca Casady and others from the magazine.

December 10, 6:30-9:30 pmGroup collage-making  event in association with DRINKOLLAGE. DRINKOLLAGE began in the fall of 2011 with a group of friends, a stack of magazines, scissors, glue, and some cans of Coors Lite. It has since developed into a semi-regular gathering of artists and friends who make collages together and drink beer. In May of 2013 we published the first issue of our zine, and launched the second volume in September 2013 at the New York Art Book Fair. DRINKOLLAGE is brought to you by Jamie Gaul and Rachael Morrison.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"With Choir," Emely Neu with No Bra

The musician Susanne Oberbeck, a.k.a. No Bra, and journalist-turned-artist, Emely Neu met for a live interview in London on May 25, 2013.  The occasion was Neu’s master’s thesis performance entitled “With Choir.” It was structured as a traditional interview, but Neu added a third element – a trio of masked actors -- calling it a “triangular situation.” Neu said the chorus was meant to embody the natural discomfort of any exchange. I know from my own experience, that the process of interviewing someone is fraught with uncertainly.  A seemingly straightforward exchange between a prepared interviewer and a willing interviewee can easily go off course.  Yet, these detours often produce the most interesting material.

Each participant after the fact reported feeling uncomfortable with the outcome of the event.  I’ve since become further acquainted with Neu and Oberbeck individually, and I can guess why.  They are both contemporary German-born artists, fully engaged in their respective fields, but their aesthetics and personalities are very different. Neu is motivated to take concrete action inviting others to collaborate. She responds viscerally to injustice and seeks solace in nature. She is the curator of a book called, “Let’s Start a Pussy Riot,” created as a way to raise funds for the wrongfully imprisoned members of the Russian collective, Pussy Riot.  In contrast, Oberbeck is an understated, urban realist; a solitary observer.  She catches the small details revealing society’s alienating forces. Her early interest in filmmaking shifted to singing and songwriting in 2003. Her pop sound places an industrial instrumentation behind her pointed ballads. I believe that even in a traditionally formatted interview, the conversation would have been bumpy. 

I attended the performance with my husband, Jeff. It took place on the top floor of Rich Mix, a venue used for exhibitions and screenings located on Bethnel Road. We entered a large, darkened theatre space. Chairs had been placed on three sides of a spotlit set in several neat rows.  A small coffee table with water glasses sat between two upholstered armchairs. Just beyond the shadows, three masked, bronze-painted young actors stood wearing togas. They emitted soft giggles, moans and sniffing sounds. As people entered the room and selected their seats, they glanced at the disguised group. Most people smiled quizzically and conferred with their neighbors. The murmurs from the stage combined with the audience’s hushed conversations as if in parallel play.

Once everyone was seated the strange prologue of mirrored whispers quieted as Neu, wearing a neat white blouse and dark slacks, purposefully entered the square of light with her guest. In slim patterned pants, sneakers and a large leather jacket, Oberbeck seated herself across from Emely in the adjoining chair. Her hip-length hair – often her only on-stage attire above her shorts -- contributed to her spare presence.  Neu’s questions for Oberbeck covered topics such as the personal significance of the fall of the Berlin wall and her musical influences.  Jeff pointed out that the format suggested a typical television talk show: the Greek chorus functioned as both the house band and the side-kick for Neu. As such, the “choir” felt slightly aligned with Neu leaving Oberbeck outnumbered. Her defense tactic was in keeping with her personal style: she shut down and answered back with comments she later said were aimed at “entertaining the audience.” Neu carried the conversation forward against this tide. The trio did disrupt the interview in an entertaining way for this particular exchange, but ultimately Oberbeck’s retorts seemed to unsettle the flow more than the squeaks and sighs interjected by the actors. Thus true to Neu’s objective the “choir” was the catalyst for and gave physical form to the unexpected.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Erin Haldrup: Painting and Parenthood

Two days before her due date, Erin Haldrup, a young painter, asked if we could have lunch together. On one of the first truly warm days of spring, we stopped by my studio before getting a bite.  I took this photograph of Erin, in front of “Change My Mind,” a large painting I’d finished a year prior, around the time we first met.

Sitting together at an outdoor café, Erin asked me for my best advice about balancing motherhood and painting.  Erin and I have a friendship that feels fated – our paths have crossed in so many unlikely ways that it would be fool-hardy not to embrace it.  Happily, the fates were right to throw us together – as usual – and I set out to give her a glimpse of my experience as a working painter and parent.

My children are now grown; Phoebe is 22 and Evan is 19.  I have been a practicing artist for more than 35 years. Contrary to the stereotypical notion that children get in the way of making art, I found that the great responsibility of parenthood feeds art-making rather than detracts from it. Bonding with our children engendered the most profound self-understanding and ability to empathize with others. While its not guaranteed, being a parent can teach humility and awe.  

I did find, as I started my family, that certain trade offs were in store.  The energy spent tolerating art world politics was going to be saved and then spent on my children. Again, the conventional wisdom is that children are a distraction; but which is more of a waste of time: getting the run-around from people who will never give weight to your thoughts, or helping your child take on the world? There is also, to be sure, a prejudice against women, further enhanced by the status of motherhood, common to most fields. This attitude is thriving in the artworld – which seems to be the antithesis of a meritocracy. Parenthood is, however, the original D.I.Y. art practice. I half jokingly suggested that Erin and I start an inter-generational feminist art collective rooted in the ethics of motherhood.

With these broader perspectives as a foundation, I offered Erin some practical advice: even if you have to work at the kitchen table, keep on working. A series of small watercolors can keep the flame alive until you get back to a larger canvas. Communicate your requirements for time alone. Take several mornings and a weekend day to yourself. This won’t always happen, but knowing that you need them is important. Children have enriched my thinking and still continue to do so. This intimacy between generations is a link to the future. As I move forward through time, staying focused on the future through the perspective of youth allows for the powerful blend of wisdom and innovation, a magical brew.  After lunch, Erin said she had an urgent mission. I thought it would be something for her baby, but she was going to the art supply store around the corner to get paper and fresh watercolor paint.

Note: Erin’s son, Antonio Robert, was born in May and far from doing small watercolors at the kitchen table she is now in Cleveland working on a large-scale public art project.