Longhouse Projects is pleased to present Suddenly, Last Summer featuring the work of Ana Cardoso, Holly Coulis, Elise Ferguson, Joe Fyfe, Ted Gahl, Paul Metrinko, Alan Prazniak, Caris Reid, and Patricia Treib. The show opens on June 17th from 6-8pm.
This exhibition focuses on artists whose paintings embody a particular spirit of warmth by using specific materials, gestures and tonalities of a summertime palette. Throughout art’s history painters have been capturing the sublimity of the seasons through depictions of activities and subjects, variations of hues and spatial composition. Some examples include Abel Grimmer’s An Allegory of Summer or Guiseppe Arcimboldo’s Summer, both from the 16th century, the seasonal suite by Nicolas Poussin made from 1660 to 1664, or Summertime by Mary Cassatt from 1894. Less fixed to narrative though equally as evocative is Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series or paintings by Lois Dodd made during her summers in Maine for last 60 years. Summer’s quarter connotes dualities of lightness and saturation: washed out color or jewel tones; materials that are worn and bleached from sun and saltwater or are fresh and absorbent; gestures that are hazy, loose and airy or crisp and sharp, like the clarity of morning before the humidity sets in.
Meanwhile for painters, and the rest of us, living in New York City, the choice to vacate during the hot months articulates the senses outlined above. Whether it is the sun-soaked sand of the beach, or the leafy gestures and cool green lawns of the park, or the quiet hum of the country, the escape from the hot-pot of the city offers a unique set of visual cues that are illuminated with this group of works.
Suddenly, Last Summer references the 1958 play by Tennessee Williams. In it, the intersection of memory and place establish a scene dripping with the claustrophobic embrace of a dense, humid garden. The heaviness is contrasted against the memory of “the white hot” seaside where a dramatic event had taken place. The imagery Williams’ concocts with his descriptive dialogue sets a metaphoric stage for the characters’ nostalgic struggle in recounting their stories of summer. It is in these vivid surroundings, represented by the qualities inherent in the works on view, where summertime’s adventures plays out.
The patterns in Elise Ferguson’s pigmented plaster on panels could be snatched from beach towels and sundresses, or the umbrella casting shade on a tiled poolside. The title of the exhibition suggests the flash of memory, as seen in Patricia Treib’s process of revisiting a set of elements taken from direct observation, expanding and transforming each variation into a specific configuration of characters, embodying both a distinctive and relational quality. Her work balances saturation levels and interstitial space between color and application, offering a sense of levity and effervescence. Subjects captured in the bright colors and clean-lit edges of Holly Coulis’ paintings, offer frontality and intimacy. Ted Gahl includes a work from his “Cabana” series. Inspired by the summer patterns reminiscent of those found in resorts and hotels, the paintings are made using a textured enamel sprayed over paint stirrers on linen. Other paintings range in size, the palettes and titles inspired by the artist's rural studio location. Alan Prazniak’s canvas, filled with soft ambiguous vegetation, suggest a sodden all-encompassing environment. Another scene, captured through the textured curtains of Paul Metrinko’s painterly hotel window, is charged with a setting sun and palm tree. Ana Cardoso’s new work combines dyed linen and canvas into modules that are installed leaving open areas between panels of muted colors. A stretched canvas and muslin work by Joe Fyfe from 2006, includes playfully scribbled shapes in different colored crayons. The material is authentically worn from unknown prior use with painted splatters and scuffs. One portrait is included in the exhibition by Caris Reid, the head of a distinguished young woman, Julia, with an ornate wrap of oranges, patterns and leaves.