Human Interest: Six Figurative Painters

9 Mar — 1 Apr 2017 at the Gallery Henoch in New York, United States

David Kassan, Kaitlyn, 2009. Courtesy of Gallery Henoch
David Kassan, Kaitlyn, 2009. Courtesy of Gallery Henoch
13 MAR 2017

Paintings by Mel Leipzig, Daniel E. Greene, Sharon Sprung, Stephen Wright, Ryan Bradley and David Kassan will be the focus of Human Interest at Gallery Henoch. The exhibition will be on view March 9 – April 1, 2017. An opening reception will be held Thursday, March 9th from 6-8pm. The event is free and open to the public.

The experiences of people, what they feel, and their stories are the focus of these six painters. Discerning between meditation, distress and desire, artists do not merely capture a likeness but rather encapsulate other people’s psychology into their works. While each artist approaches their subject differently, they are bound together by the history of portraiture and the stories that each painting tells about the time and place of its inhabitants.

Mel Leipzig’s oeuvre can only be described as a chronicle of the human experience. His insistence on painting from life produces portraits that encapsulate the entirety of an individual’s existence within a canvas. His “rooms” are the stuff that makes up a person’s home or workplace. More often than not, that makes a truer portrait than the subject’s physiognomy. For Leipzig, his subjects are everyday people living extraordinarily rich lives; from the cafeteria worker to the senator and from the architect to the graffiti artist each person contributes to the pantheon of the American portrait.

A renowned portrait artist of dignitaries and statesmen, Daniel E. Greene instills a similar refinement in his paintings depicting everyday subway riders and auctioneers. Whether it is the anticipation of waiting for a train, the thrill of the auction, or the awkwardness of eye contact with a stranger, the viewer is immediately pulled into the gripping environments of his subjects.

Sharon Sprung’s close observations and thoughtful renderings of female models evoke an intimacy between figure and viewer. In velvety skims of paint, Sprung conjures a tactile awareness suggesting a memory or the sensation of warmly beholding another. She uses the volatility of oil paint as a metaphor for the resilience of the human condition, with her subjects often entwined with meticulous textiles.

Stephen Wright’s work is a revelation of confrontational and unromanticized figures. Depicted through a seemingly voyeuristic gaze, the paintings are psychological portraits of raw and exposed women and their stories. His works are ultimately outward expressions of inner life.

Artist Ryan Bradley’s work aims to invoke the instinct of Pareidolia, a phenomenon that represents our innate desire to recognize faces and forms through mere fragments of suggestion. Exploring unconventional uses of paper and pastel, he carves his delicate portraits in complex patterns that overlap, interlace, invert, mirror and subtract over each other, challenging the viewer’s eye to perceive the face that is both, at once, familiar and abstract.

David Kassan’s work masterfully involves the viewer into the palpable essence of those he paints. Through nuanced observation, Kassan paints with a devotion to present the figure void of any judgment, preserving the emotion and history of the subject. With a focus on preserving history, Kassan’s Holocaust survivors are a particular focus of his current oeuvre.