I’ve been meaning to write about the Whitney Biennial, but I found that the culmination of artists has made me a tad overwhelmed and I haven’t been able to compose one thought for all. So, tonight I decided to feature just one artist that I enjoyed, and then at will, can add to the list eventually.
First up is:
Ellen Harvey, who is a painter based in Brooklyn. I first came to appreciate not only the hand/technique of this artist, but also her ability to look and think “outside the box” when seeing “The New York Beautification Project”. Started in 1999 and continuing until 2001 Ellen made painstakingly small, meticulous oil paintings, on the streets of Manahattan. The paintings, exist amongst graffiti and are a surprise to anyone who may come across one in-situ. When I first learned of the work, I had just completed my Dumpster series (I Casonetti, 2003) and loved that Ellen in her landscape journey, made several paintings on dumpsters in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
For the Whitney Biennial, the artist has combined installation and painting, covering a wall with paintings of ornate mirrors. The paintings, both mimicking the idea of reflection and space, capture the artist in her studio at work. The frames of the mirrors echo a time long gone and merge both past and present in their execution. I found myself, as a viewer bending close to the paintings, in a wry attempt to look for my own reflection.
The project titled: The Museum of Failure, 2008, is composed of the lightbox installation (“The Collection of Impossible Subjects”) and the mirrored paintings (“Invisible Self-Portrait in My Studio”)
From the artists’ website:
The reflection of the viewer in the piece provides the context for the exhibition of nothingness. The rear of the piece is open, revealing the fluorescent lights that make the engraved drawings glow and illuminating Invisible Self-Portrait in My Studio which is visible through the piece’s opening.
In a tribute to the unbridled narcissism that all self-portraits represent, the photographs show the studio in the process of painting Invisible Self-Portrait in My Studio, so that the artwork itself becomes both the subject and object of the work.
As a painter in an artworld that seems to be veering further away from craft of painting, I not only appreciate, but also choose to look towards someone like Ellen, as inspiration for the near future.