Silvermine Arts Center is pleased to present Highlight: New Canaan. This exhibition is guest-curated by Paul Efstathiou, a second-generation art dealer and recent Southport resident, and organized by Eleanor Flatow, an art consultant and New Canaan resident. Highlight: New Canaan, the sequel to Efstathiou’s successful Hollis Taggart Galleries Show, Highlight: Summer One, unites eleven professional contemporary artists based in New York City and Los Angeles. Each artist has had noteworthy exhibitions, has forthcoming shows and has been highlighted and reviewed by national and/or international art publications. Efstathiou brings them together to create a dynamic and diverse show, in accordance with Silvermine’s 96-year history of showcasing such innovative artists as Elaine de Kooning, Mary Frank, Helen Frankenthaler, Sol LeWitt. Alice Neel, Louise Nevelson, Richard Pousette-Dart, and James Rosenquist connecting the community to broader discussions and explorations occurring in the art world.
For many of the artists this will be their debut exhibition in Connecticut, and it is Efstathiou’s first curated Connecticut show. All of the artists employ a wide and disparate range of processes using modern technologies and/or unusual materials while addressing different themes. Some rely on social commentary and personal revelations to tell a story, while others explore visual deceptions and various dichotomies. Each challenges and gleans from historical genres including Abstract Expressionism, Color field, Comic art, Inuit art, Minimalism, Pop art, and Surrealism. The results are thought-provoking compositions that represent the finest examples of today’s Generation X and Millennial artists.
Noteworthy techniques and materials include Marcel Dzama’s use of ink concocted of root beer to simulate the color of blood. He creates sinister characters in the midst of dramatic and disturbing scenes. Elizabeth Cooper pours, splashes and splatters dazzling acrylics onto a meticulously prepared monochromatic surface. She finishes the work with enamel to create a sleek and polished tour de force of abstraction. Ted Gahl’s canvases thinly conceal reproduced childhood drawings; his compositions are not just a paradigm in abstraction but also powerful, meditative and personal revelations. John Knuth, the true alchemist, transforms flyspeck or lighted nautical distress flares into modern-day paintbrushes to create his abstract works. Evan Robarts uses a mop to smear plaster across linoleum floor tiles to create monochromatic paintings elevating commonplace objects and actions.
Modern day da Vincis Eric Shaw and Anne Vieux use a combination of technology, smartphone applications, and traditional processes to create bold abstractions that explore the dichotomy of digital versus physical. Eric Shaw begins his works by sketching on his smartphone and then translating the designs to canvas, painted by hand with acrylics. His formalized paintings explode with color. Anne Vieux’s complicated process of using technology, hand finishing and printing on suede creates fresh and colorful kaleidoscopic works.
Masters of precision and illusion Matt Mignanelli and Corydon Cowansage play with depth perception and perspective. Mignanelli paints stacks of repetitive geometric shapes that appear to be produced mechanically; however, the visible drips reveal the painter’s freehand style and playful deception. Distortions in the patterns encourage the viewer to toggle between two and three dimensions. Cowansage depicts an ordinary surface, grass, as mysterious and fantastic through the use of a highly magnified interpretation, color and unusual viewpoints.
Lastly, experts of social commentary William Buchina and Devin Troy Strother produce works that, although very different in their techniques, address political or racial themes. Influenced by Victorian etchings and modern day comics, Buchina’s paintings depicting mysterious characters are densely packed in the artist’s dramatic, dystopian, and politically-charged pageants. Devin Troy Strother creates masterful and eccentric compositions that draw deeply from Black culture and identity. His titles are delivered like punch lines, and his work has a sculptural and austere beauty. Strother’s exuberant collage constructions have the abstract physicality of Matisse’s cutouts.