Hollis Taggart is pleased to present Highlight: Chelsea, an exhibition of new and recent work by thirteen emerging and mid-career artists that together underscore the formal and conceptual diversity of contemporary practice. Highlight: Chelsea is guest curated by Paul Efstathiou and marks the gallery’s second collaboration with the independent curator, as it expands its contemporary program. The exhibition will include new work by William Buchina, Elizabeth Cooper, Corydon Cowansage, André Hemer, Hiroya Kurata, John Knuth, Matt Mignanelli, Matt Phillips, Esther Ruiz, Eric Shaw, and Devin Troy Strother, as well as recent works by Marcel Dzama and Brenda Goodman. Highlight: Chelsea emphasizes the featured artists’ distinct styles and approaches, while also creating dynamic aesthetic juxtapositions and parallels between them. Highlight: Chelsea will be on view from October 6 through 27, 2018.
“For me, Highlight: Chelsea is about creating a visually rich and compelling experience for visitors that translates into genuine interest in each artist’s individual practice. The initial impact of an exhibition—that instant feeling of awe—is essential to overcoming the uncertainty that someone might feel in the gallery environment or with contemporary art, generally, and instead inspiring inquisitiveness and connection with an artist or particular work,” said Efstathiou. “I’ve had the pleasure and opportunity to spend substantial time with the featured artists—in some cases the relationships date back many years—and I want visitors to come away with the same enthusiasm that I have for each of them, as well as an understanding of the complexity and variety of what’s happening in art today.”
In reflecting on contemporary practice, several themes emerge within the exhibition. As political and social clashes have increased and been further intensified by digital technologies and platforms, Surrealist sensibilities have re-emerged as an articulation of the current moment. William Buchina’s paintings, which pair disparate images and symbols, appear as strange and inscrutable dreamscapes that meld personal and collective experience, while Marcel Dzama’s whimsical anthropomorphic beings and objects harken to either a time lost or yet to come. In other instances, the social commentary and critique is more overt, as with the work of Devin Troy Strother, whose often humorous and provocative mixed-media pieces examine and illuminate the experience of race in the U.S.
Technology has itself become a fertile space for experimentation, as artists reconcile the ephemerality of the digital realm with the handmade processes of traditional art genres. The liminal space between analog and digital formats form the core of André Hemer’s practice, as he captures the language of the internet in his thickly-painted canvases. Eric Shaw’s complex abstract compositions are formed by layers of lines, colors, and shapes, first created on his smartphone and then laboriously reproduced on canvas in acrylic. In Corydon Cowansage’s abstract paintings, everyday objects such as bricks and blades of grass are re-scaled, patterned, and repeated, resembling in ways the lines of code that comprise our digital universe.
Abstraction also connects the works of Brenda Goodman, whose compositions suggest staring faces and twisted bodies as an evocation of emotion and human experience; Elizabeth Cooper, whose bright color contrasts and splattering and pouring techniques offer a contemporary reprisal of Abstract Expressionism; and Esther Ruiz, who marries organic materials with mass-produced plexiglass and neons to create sculptural objects that feel at once primal and futuristic.
“Highlight: Chelsea offers an exciting opportunity to experience a wide range of artistic production, and to examine the singular approaches that artists are taking to common experience and ongoing formal dialogues,” said Hollis Taggart. “As the gallery continues to expand its contemporary program, we are particularly attuned to giving a platform and voice to emerging artists and those who have been under-represented in our cultural and artistic conversations. This is very much dovetails with Paul’s approach to making contemporary art accessible and inviting to wide range of audiences, and we are enthusiastic about our ongoing collaboration with him.”