Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Molly Zuckerman-Hartung at Corbett Vs. Dempsey

Molly Zuckerman-Hartung casts a wide net, a net which is itself depicted in this show, capturing a blurry, bright-green butterfly. She draws intermittently from an entire art school’s curricula of techniques, theories, and art history, but especially from the anarchic, experimental sexuality of its student body. Some of these paintings build intensity by meticulously measuring space with small, evenly spaced marks - others release it with an orgasmic splash and drip – and yet others seem to be the moist, relaxed, chromatically fading afterglow. It all feels so erotic – even her collage with an upside down 1856 American flag - firmly flapping away even as its colors seep into the cloth beneath. There are unexpected, spontaneous qualities in every piece, and that’s why her shows are so exciting, but also a bit disappointing. Her work is about discovery, not resolution

And MZH is a context builder. For her 2012 show at the MCA, her paintings were accompanied by a wall papered with faux-serious “95 Theses of Art Theory”. This time, the only verbiage is found on the covers of the exhibition catalog: nonsensical or naughty variations on the name of the show and artist. Instead of an essay, the catalog shows her photographs of studio clutter and whatever else she might find fascinating. Quirky, raw personality, rather than critical ideas or ideals, has unapologetically taken center stage.

Cora Cohen, "Little  Nomad 5", 2013

 But above all, she has accompanied her current show with “Sensitive Instruments” , a nine-women group show that she curated herself. Most of the pieces share her abstract-feminist-queer-expressive genre. But not all. Jennifer Packer, currently artist-in-residence at Harlem’s Studio Museum, is an observational realist of African American life, while another distinguished New York artist, Cora Cohen, is more of an heroic, old-school abstract expressionist. Diverse in age, location, and ethnicity, all that these nine chosen artists have in common is that they’re American women pursuing careers in contemporary art, demonstrating that social networking is yet one more net that can be thrown.

Dana DeGiulio, untitled, 2013

 Nothing in either show feels as permanent, profound, and timeless as iconic art from historic patriarchies. With a few exceptions, self expression stands above any conceptual, aesthetic, or narrative concerns. But many of the pieces are attention grabbing, and the contrasts between them are fascinating, with the geo-form, white-on-white understatement of Dierdre O’Dwyer hung between the over-the-top chaotic sensuality of Suzanne Doremus and a blurry but still succulent female torso by Dana DeGiulio.

 These girls just like to have fun!

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