Tag Archives: abstraction

The Art Newspaper | Future Fair | Eto Otitigbe | Adia Millett | Morton Fine Art

17 May

Abstraction is ascendant at New York’s Future Fair

The fair, a haven for fresh painting, may signal a coming shift in the market power dynamic between representation and abstraction

Benjamin Sutton

11 May 2023


Visitors during Future Fair 2023's VIP preview Keenon Perry
Visitors during Future Fair 2023’s VIP previewKeenon Perry

At the Future Fair, which opened to VIPs on Wednesday (10 May) for its third in-person edition, painting is without question the dominant medium. But what manner of painting—the bright, figurative style that has dominated the contemporary art market for the better part of a decade, or more process-driven abstraction—is up for debate. There are strong examples of both, and plenty of sculpture too, but amid the stands filled with canvases featuring popping portraits, irreverent domestic scenes and stylised art historical allusions, abstract works may invite closer inspection and more sustained interest.

“I’m excited for the pendulum to swing back to abstraction,” says Joey Piziali, the director and co-founder of San Francisco-based Romer Young Gallery, whose stand features works by an intergenerational cohort of “three women at the forefront of abstraction”, as he put it. The presentation spans a fluid and gestural circular canvas by Pamela Jorden, Bird’s Eye (2023), smaller untitled works by Nancy White with interlocking shapes rendered in a more muted palette, and a hard-edged geometric composition in blue and red pigmented plaster by Elise Ferguson priced at $24,000.

Elise Ferguson, Walsh L, 2023Courtesy the artist and Romer Young Gallery

“Abstraction is so generous, there’s nothing didactic about it,” Piziali says. “Whatever you’re seeing in the work, you’re bringing to it.”

On the stand of Washington, DC-based gallery Morton Fine Art, visitors might see ancient geometries or futuristic architectural schema in works by Eto Otitigbe. His pieces, on view alongside mixed media works by Adia Millett, are actually bas-relief sculptures in the guise of paintings. Each aluminium or Valchromat panel is engraved with a precise geometric structure related to Otitigbe’s public art practice, to which he then applies dyes or acrylic paint.

“I see these as experimental drawings,” the artist says. “They’re all about the push and pull between the rigidity of the engraving and then the way the ink moves across the panel, which I can’t completely control.” His works are priced between $2,750 for the smaller panels and $16,500 for the large diptych anchoring the stand.

Eto Otitigbe, Dr. Nova (diptych), 2022Courtesy the artist and Morton Fine Art

A different kind of push and pull is at work in the dazzling acrylic, gouache and ink works on paper by Rafael Plaisant filling the walls of New York-based High Noon gallery’s stand, which also features bewitching ceramic busts by Elisa Soliven. Plaisant’s abstract compositions toggle between ancient, contemporary and futuristic forms, evoking traditional scroll paintings and mandalas, Russian Constructivism, psychedelic poster art and science-fiction imagery, among other touchstones.

“Rafael’s practice started out as a fantasy of building the perfect skateboard ramp, which led him to study architecture,” says High Noon’s owner and director Jared Linge, who first discovered the Brazilian artist’s work at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic through the viral #ArtistSupportPledge social media campaign. “At the time his work was selling for $200, which felt like the wrong price.” At Future Fair, Plaisant’s work is still priced affordably, between $1,800 and $3,500 depending on size.

Rafael Plaisant, Proposito, 2023Courtesy the artist and High Noon, New York

“For a younger fair, Rebeca [Laliberte] and Rachel [Mijares Fick] really care about supporting galleries and showing work at accessible price points,” Linge adds, referring to Future Fair’s co-founders, who have made a supportive financial model and a cooperative spirit cornerstones of the fair.

The fair certainly seemed to benefit from being the first out of the gate amid New York’s spring art market marathon, hosting a buzzy preview the day before Tefaf New York and Independent, and before the auction houses kicked off their major seasonal sales. With 56 exhibitors, some of them sharing joint stands and others showing in lounge-like spaces or open thoroughfares, the fair has an inviting, unpretentious atmosphere that feels all the more welcoming given its location in the heart of Chelsea, a gallery district increasingly dominated by a couple dozen imposing international dealerships.

Or, as one VIP in line for the bar during Wednesday’s preview was overheard putting it: “I feel like NadaIndependent and Untitled had an orgy, and Future Fair is their lovechild.”

Available artwork by ETO OTITIGBE

Available artwork by ADIA MILLETT

ANDREI PETROV | The Washington Post

29 Apr

In the galleries: Landmark show lauds two iconic artists

Also: A multi-artist exhibit spans nearly a century of the Black experience in America; two artists deal with the war in Ukraine indirectly with personal and esoteric approaches.

Review by Mark Jenkins

April 28, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

Leonets & Petrov

No signs of war are evident in Jaroslav Leonets’s and Andrei Petrov’s recent work, but their paintings respond to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Leonets’s landscapes depict a land of rustic beauty, barely touched by mankind but achingly vulnerable. Petrov’s landscape-influenced abstractions refer to an earlier period in the region’s history, yet were sparked by the Russian onslaught.

Leonets is a Kyiv resident who began painting rural Ukrainian scenes before the full-blown war began. His Amy Kaslow Gallery show, “Documenting Landscapes: Ukraine’s Vanishing Terrain,” features nine impressionistic oils made between 2019 and 2022. They’re painted primarily with sunny hues, yet with areas deepened by shadow. The majority of them feature bodies of water alluringly splashed with reflected light.

Andrei Petrov’s “Fugitive Sun,” in his exhibit “Footprints in the Snow.” (Andrei Petrov/Morton Fine Art)

Similar highlights characterize most of the oils in Petrov’s Morton Fine Art show. But as indicated by the show’s title, “Footprints in the Snow,” the reflections play on white fields rather than blue lakes or rivers. Petrov is a D.C.-born New Yorker whose suite of pictures was inspired by his grandfather’s 1915 escape from a Siberian labor camp, a flight that took him to China and eventually the United States. Petrov is partly of Ukrainian heritage, and the Russian assault motivated him to revisit this chapter in his family history.

Both artists apply pigment thickly, but after that, their methods diverge. Leonets’s technique is as traditional as his imagery; clouds and cliffs alike are rendered with thick but loose gestures. Petrov applies layers of color that he then cracks and partly removes. Many of his pictures are defined by fissures that suggest the collision of tectonic plates. This signature move is visually striking, but also thematically suggestive: The fractures suggest breaks in the timeline or lives shattered by history. Where Leonets’s landscapes appear pretty but threatened, Petrov’s abstractions conjure centuries of ruin and loss.

Jaroslav Leonets: Documenting Landscapes: Ukraine’s Vanishing Terrain Through May 7 at Amy Kaslow Gallery, 7920 Norfolk Ave., Bethesda.

Andrei Petrov: Footprints in the Snow Through May 7 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302.0Comments

AMBER ROBLES-GORDON’s ” “Fertile Grounds: of minds, the womb, and the earth” at The Nicholson Project

13 Dec



In DC, neighborhoods are facing an unprecedented amount of change in appearance, racial makeup, and social policies that runs counter to the once-prevalent idea of DC being “Chocolate City.” However, there are ways to balance change with paying respects to DC’s living history. The Nicholson Project, an artist residency that recently opened in Ward 7, hopes to demonstrate this change effectively with the inaugural resident artist Amber Robles-Gordon, who lives only eight minutes from the building. For me, it feels like a house turned into a relic, with its period-accurate rehab details; however, the Nicholson Project owners do not focus on the actual former owners, but highlight contemporary artists of color instead.

Robles-Gordon’s multimedia installation at the Nicholson Project, “Fertile Grounds: of minds, the womb, and the earth,” delves into emotional and physical histories of the bodies of women of color in scientific and medical contexts. From gynecologist and slave-owner J. Marion Sims to government-sanctioned Tuskegee experiments, systematic violence on Black women and their wombs plays a quintessential part of American history and medicine. Nowadays, such violence has evolved into defiling the space that bodies of color inhabit; a disproportionate amount of US pollution, for instance, is shipped off to poorer countries for processing. This installation, Robles-Gordon explained to me, “is a conversation about the deleterious effects that man-made products have on the earth in general and how that is in conjunction with what we put into our body: unresolved trauma, unresolved issues, unresolved energy.”

In tribute to the story and cells of Henrietta Lacks—the Baltimore woman whose immortal cancer cells were harvested without her knowledge or consent at Johns Hopkins in 1951, and continue to be used in research to this day—“Fertile Grounds” layers nuance into how informed consent shapes who and what gains access to bodies and parts. Her installation seems to ask: “Who has the right to examine and characterize what is happening here? How are they describing it, and are they using the correct tools and language to do so?”

The room-size installation uses every corner and cranny of its 12-square-foot space, from floor to rafters. White cotton strings, which remind me of Fred Sandbeck’s minimalist work, hang vertically, in a 3-D formation approaching the viewer. Suspended from the strings, colorful sticks wrapped in natural and synthetic fabrics form diamond shapes at different heights and depths. Each of the three layers is approximately 8 inches apart, dancing whenever you move around. The flat V shape of the overall installation, when seen head-on, channels sacred yoni power and fragility. Approachable only from the sides and front, the installation offers viewers no access to its inner layers, setting a subtle barrier of modesty and mystery.

Women, in Robles-Gordon’s interpretation, bear the brunt of environmental instability and physical violation. The artist focuses on the physical manifestations of trauma through fibroids, growths that spontaneously appear in uteruses due to hereditary factors and which are thought to be exacerbated through emotional and physical stress. The systemic disadvantage that women of color receive in medical contexts compounds these problems.

With Henrietta Lacks, her DNA was taken from her womb without her knowledge and parsed out to strangers, thousands of times, in a 20th-century form of legal slavery. More to the point, medical institutions and genetic science itself have profited off of her cells without the Lacks family‘s knowledge, anonymized as HeLa cells to conceal the fact that any living person was ever connected to them. To stress the ancestral and narrative power of Lacks’ ordeal, Robles-Gordon uses talking sticks, an indigenous artifact that uses twigs wrapped in different strips of cloth, to represent her DNA.

“Someone told me I have a fascination with materiality,” Robles-Gordon says. “Each stick is like a conversation or like a strand of DNA where it’s perfectly imperfect.”

She uses a rainbow palette with an evolved sense of how its placement completes the personification of humanity: the spirit of colors, feelings, and experiences. With her previous solo show in 2018, Third Eye Open, Robles-Gordon focused outwards, on the infinity of the cosmos; here at the Nicholson Project, she zeroes in on the unknowable within the body.

Stefanie Reiser, the owner and operator of the Nicholson Project, came to the idea of an arts residency by way of her main occupation in real estate development. When she was starting out, she says, she was “gravitating towards doing things that are related to the arts and how I could use space in a way that really could cultivate and be a cultural hub or a catalyst for creative activities.” She also took care, in her complete rehab of the Nicholson Project house, to bring in historically accurate doorways, flooring, and fixtures to reflect the styling of similar houses built around the same time, decades ago. In an interview, Reiser stressed how the property became an important symbol of history remade and re-examined for her. This building, which officially opened Sept. 14, offers paid residencies for creatives of all disciplines, stating on its Instagram that it creates “a safe, equitable space for artists to work on their studio practice and produce onsite creative activations.”

Besides Robles-Gordon’s installation, there is a photo exhibition entitled Goosin’ featuring local artist and Howard University professor Larry Cook, videographer Vince Brown, and photographer Beverly Price, alongside “Take a Stand” (2019), a neon piece by Jefferson Pinder. Goosin’, which according to the Nicholson Project’s Instagram means “the act of looking at someone or something in admiration,” features boys crouched in front of a blue backdrop, neighborhood businesses, and protestors that proclaim that “housing is a right, not a privilege.” They occupy a significant place in the gallery, well lit by the lights above and by Pinder’s artwork.

This current collection of artwork is both a study of medical anthropology and abstraction, leaving me with more questions than answers about how to value my own body and keep it from violation and degradation. Robles-Gordon’s confrontation of the past in the Nicholson Project’s rehabilitated space is a meaningful way to combat a culture that dissects and disseminates the bodies of Black and brown women, cutting deep until there is nothing left.



Admission to the Nicholson Project is free, but visitors need to make an appointment at info@thenicholsonproject.com to gain access outside of public event times. Exhibitions on view through the end of 2019.

Photos by Anne Kim / courtesy of the artist


Available artwork by AMBER ROBLES-GORDON

Morton Fine Art
52 O St NW #302
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 628-2787