Highlight: Summer One is the first in a series of contemporary shows curated by Paul Efstathiou. After more than a decade of experience as an art dealer, Paul has joined Hollis Taggart Galleries for his inaugural curatorial project. Highlight: Summer One brings together seven artists embarking on a critical moment in their careers. The exhibition’s focus is to highlight these artists who are beyond the emerging stage and have reached a pivotal moment in their careers where they have been awarded prestigious fellowships, have been written about in major publications, and have participated in selective solo and group shows. Each artist finds strength in his or her approach to process, making art that is a reflection of the here and now, either through the use of modern technology, materials, or social commentary. The artists are either based in New York or Los Angeles, and all are making art that loudly announces the time and the place in which they live.
The roster is an eclectic mix of aesthetics and intentions. William Buchina’s graphic acrylic paintings call to mind Victorian etchings or contemporary graphic novels. The paintings tackle modern concepts with a healthy dose of political satire, always doing so with a surrealist twist. Elizabeth Cooper’s expressionistic paintings are the product of perfectly prepared canvases, often finished with enamel to make the canvas a two dimensional reflective object. Bright, bold, hothouse colors breathe better when guided by Cooper’s hand, who creates gestural paintings that are both graceful and charged with energy. Ted Gahl’s paintings challenge firm vocabulary used to define art. His work is predicated on the ambiguity between the representational and the abstract. From afar one of his paintings could read as a monochromatic color field, but upon closer examination they reveal themselves as meditative compositions made up of childhood drawings and ruminations on his own memories. John Knuth is the existentialist of the group, whose creative processes challenge prescribed notions of beauty by making eschatological paintings by way of scatological means. Matt Mignanelli is the master of precision, producing trompe-l’oeil paintings withvisible drips that quietly intimate the painstaking process of being painted by hand. Eric Shaw is another precisionist, making Pop paintings for the twenty-first century from drawings made first on his smartphone. Last is Devin Troy Strother, who is eager to make his audience squirm, and then laugh, and simply to enjoy the art hanging on the walls – because in the end, that is what it’s there for.