Jeff Bailey Gallery is pleased to present Nichole van Beek’s first solo exhibition, Ohs & Exes, an exhibition of paintings and works on paper.
Van Beek combines letterforms, abstract patterning and texture to create maze- and puzzle-like compositions. She begins each painting by dyeing the canvas. Various patterns emerge from these quick applications of pigment: flecks, daubs and radiating blotches. They in turn provide a foundation for the layering in of letterforms.
For van Beek, the letters are not only compositional guides but also point to other numerous meanings. When heard aloud, the title of the exhibition, Ohs & Exes, could be understood to represent only the letters themselves. Additionally, “Oh” is what you say when you are surprised or excited, and your “exes” are what you try and forget about (but maybe keep coming back to mind).
Similarly, the painting titled GMO OMG, is a play on letters and their elasticity of meaning: GMO refers to a “genetically modified organism”. When reversed to OMG, the well-known acronym for “Oh My God” is immediately understood.
The letterforms can be slow to reveal themselves, since usually they are given three- dimensional shapes. Tight curves and sharp angles give way to deep perspective and open spaces. Foreground and background push and pull against one another, as do unusual color combinations and surface textures.
Van Beek cites other influences such as textiles, advertising signage, gardens and houseplants. All of these combine in paintings that are playful and a little bit strange.
Nichole van Beek received her BFA from The CooperUnion, New York, NY in 1998 and her MFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2007. She received a 2012 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Painting and a 2011 Socrates Sculpture Park Emerging Artist Fellowship. Her work has been exhibited in many group exhibitions, most recently in The Last Brucennial, 2014; and at galleries including Geoffrey Young, Morgan Lehman, Brian Morris and Susan Inglett. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.