Joan Semmel is a seminal figurative artist who has been exhibiting her forthright self-portraits for many years. Born in 1932, her work has formed a dimple on the cheek within the figurative art scene and her paintings follow and document the changes of her body throughout a period of time.

Currently on view at Alexander Gray Associates in Chelsea, is yet another exhibit of her most recent self portraits. Yes, at a sprightly 79, she is still making work, while also managing her own website and facebook page. Zing! I arrived at the opening around 7:30 and beyond a few gallery employees was probably the youngest person there. This was both a surprise and a delight. I relished in seeing the older art fans and fellow artists emerge for one of their own.

At the same time, I also felt a disappointment hoping that the dominating presence of critical theory in universities isn’t completely negating the appreciation of figurative/representational art amongst the younger generation.

Figurative painting is something universal that we can all relate to. No matter where you are in the world, despite culture and socio-economic status, upon undressing and peering into a reflective surface we all will see ourselves and parts of what make up the human body. As the art world moves forward an element of humanity will almost always be present in painting because mark making allows an image to exist. As trends and theories traverse planes, continents, and cultural borders the world is opening up its’ global portals. Whether or not the figure remains dominant is obvious because as long as people choose to make art the self portrait will thrive, in one shape or another.

Joan Semmel is on view at Alexander Gray Associates until May 10th-2011.
All paintings courtesy of the artist, oil on canvas.
More soon!
— Posted from my iPhone