Nancy Hoffman Gallery’s first show of the new year opens on January 26th and continues through March 2nd. Entitled "The Figure," the exhibition includes works by Nicolas Africano, Colette Calascione, Timothy Cummings, Nathalia Edenmont, Judy Fox, Gregory Halili, Viola Frey, Hung Liu, Lisea Lyons, Joseph Raffael, and Asya Reznikov. Incorporating paintings, drawings, sculpture and video the exhibition explores personal interpretations and approaches to the figure as wide ranging as a terra cotta sculpture of an African child to a pregnant mother-to-be twirling in nature through the seasons in video.
Nicolas Africano's new sculptures are part of a group he calls themes and variations. The two sculptures he completed recently in black and white glass are inspired by Cecil Beaton's photographs of Greta Garbo wearing a Pierrot costume. On paper the artist sketches ideas, positions, poses in a fresh, informal fashion. His glass figures have a timeless quality. Captivating from all angles, they beguile in their perfection.
Colette Calascione paints idealized women in settings she creates with touches of fantasy and fancy. She loves pearls and masks and hair-do's from the 30's. Painted in oil over many months Colette presents us with the woman-figure more as ideal than reality.
Timothy Cummings, in contrast to Calascione, paints in acrylic, mostly young men, boys on the verge of manhood. He loves inventing costumes, plaid pants, patterned bow ties while he creates and invents a scenario in which to set his characters. Completely self-taught his paintings always tell a story.
Nathalia Edenmont, a Swedish photographer, Russian-born, dresses her figures in spectacular creations: a dress may be composed of flowers or fruits and vegetables. With a team of ten it takes the artist from 5 hours to two weeks to create the unique sculptural dress into which the model must sit and fit. These timeless portraits capture metaphoric life moments, transitions from youth to adulthood being a key theme.
With "The Figure" Nancy Hoffman Gallery introduces its affiliation with sculptor Judy Fox, who creates archetype figures in terra cotta. The artist works on each of her sculptures from months to almost a year building the body, firing, then painting it to appear almost lifelike. She takes inspiration from art history researching her figures over the centuries to arrive at a distillation of the figure and its meaning in contemporary culture.
Gregory Halili, Philippine born, resided in the US for 20 years. While here, he created a series of watercolors of New Yorkers at lunch hour, walking, rushing, talking on their cell phones, each anonymous in his or her own world. Recognizable as citizens of our City these people-figures walk past each other without acknowledging those around them, each rendered in watercolor with superb detail.
Viola Frey has been called one of the great artists of the 20th century. She is best known for her larger than life monumental figures in clay standing 10-12 feet in height glazed in her signature palette of blue, orange and red. She was also a consummate drafts-person, drawing from the model in her studio at least once a week. Surrounding the figure in her drawings are figurines, floral patterns, bits of her three-dimensional vocabulary creating a swirl of activity, not unlike her studio activity.
Hung Liu has been called the most important Chinese artist working in this country. Until the past few years her work depicted Chinese people inspired by historical photographs. A few years ago, Liu's focus shifted to her first non-Chinese body of work, based on photographs of Dorothea Lange from the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Having been part of the Cultural Revolution, and having lived in camps for four years, Liu could relate to these images. She pours her passion and pathos into the portraits of the people Lange photographed.
Lisea Lyons has spent years photographing a favorite subject, her daughter. She has captured her from the time she was a young girl, through adolescence, alone, in nature, with friends. Her daughter stands as a touchstone to memory for others as well as for the artist.
In the 60's Joseph Raffael, now known for his sublime depictions of nature, painted what were called his white ground paintings. His watercolor of this era includes an idealized male figure along with fragments that appear like dream images: a couple embracing, a woman’s bare chest, a sign of male bravado all for the viewer to piece together or interpret.
Asya Reznikov spent six years working on a series of videos inspired by the birth of her two children. She takes the viewer through her pregnancies from her flat belly to her rounded one; through the breast feeding process as she pumps milk; and equates the creation of life with the seasons of the year as she turns unclothed in her backyard from summer to fall to winter and spring.