Ginny Casey: Disembodied hands and lumps of clay in Philadelphia

It’s a common story of contemporary art for artists to describe abandoning the two-dimensional confines of traditional painting on canvas for the more immediate materiality of sculpture, installation, or performance. In her 2016 memoir, for example, academy-trained painter Marina Abramović recalls her decisive moment: “Why should I limit myself to two dimensions when I could […]

Painters Sculpting/Sculptors Painting: Intergenerational exchange across dimensions

While critics frequently compare Dona Nelson to far more celebrated postwar painters, “Painters Sculpting/Sculptors Painting” instead placed her work in conversation with that of a diverse group of younger artists. Nadine Beauharnois, Matt Jacobs, and Marc Zajack, like Nelson, are based in the Philadelphia area and remain anchored to traditional forms of painting and sculpture […]

Quicktime: Fast, casual painting in Philadelphia

In his influential Art in America article “Provisional Painting” (2009), critic Raphael Rubinstein traced a history—from Joan Miró to Mary Heilmann—of “works that look casual, dashed-off, tentative, unfinished or self-cancelling,” that “constantly risk inconsequence or collapse.” In Rubinstein’s analysis, this attitude provides an easier yoke for artists tired of laboring under modern painting’s grand and […]

Pareidolia: Shawn Thornton’s hallucinatory visions

Witch Doctors at the Eye of the Solar Epoch (2008–10) is a long, landscape-oriented oil painting on panel whose dimensions and compositional structure resemble a folded-out paper map. In urgent hues, it presents a god’s-eye view of a watery city or an entire cosmos, punctuated with networks of mystical and mathematical symbols. Curving sections of […]

Douglas Witmer’s simplicity

It is timely that Douglas Witmer’s solo exhibition, “Dubh Glas” at Tiger Strikes Asteroid (TSA) in Philadelphia, opened shortly after the Guggenheim’s Agnes Martin retrospective closed to the public. Witmer’s group of ten softly geometric, gesso and acrylic paintings on canvas are reminiscent in atmosphere and texture of Martin’s darker works, made in the mid-2000s, […]

Rodney McMillian: Waging an artist’s war

It has been a big year for Rodney McMillian. In a rare achievement for any artist, three major East Coast institutions mounted simultaneous solo exhibitions of his multimedia works, spanning more than a decade. At the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Philadelphia, and MoMA PS1 in New York, McMillian’s […]

Nick Hughes: Naive descriptions and intricate models

In Nick Hughes’s densely worked aquatint intaglio prints, puppet or toy-like figures float in formal relation to intricately modeled furniture, tentatively moored in deep black and silver-grey surfaces. Each work on paper arranges impressions, or as Hughes puts it, “naive descriptions,” of materials that surround him in both his studio and memory: a wooden souvenir […]