Critical art reviews of Detroit galleries and museums weekly

Author: Michael Hodges

African Fashion & Shirley Woodson @ DIA

The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion & Shirley Woodson: Shield of the Nile Reflections on exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts

 

The New Black Vanguard Photography, installation image at the DIA, courtesy of DAR

For anyone laboring under the winter blues, two luminous new shows by Black artists at the Detroit Institute of Arts promise a quick, color-saturated cure — “Shirley Woodson: Shield of the Nile Reflections,” up through June 12, and “The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion,” which comes down April 17, 2022.

While the two exhibitions are very different – oil paintings by a Detroit artist vs. international high-fashion photos – they resemble one another in their fresh spirit and the undeniable sense that you’re witnessing something strong and new.

Take “The New Black Vanguard” first, a traveling show organized by Aperture, the photography nonprofit in New York City. This dazzling exhibition features the work of 15 emerging Black photographers from Africa and the African diaspora, working in places as disparate as Johannesburg, Harlem, Lagos, and London. Many of the images on display were drawn from fashion magazines, advertisements, museum collections, and social media.  In a nice localizing touch, there’s also a DIA-curated section in the last gallery, “New Gazes – Detroit,” which focuses on six metro-area Black photographers.

Many of the artists here are pushing boundaries, both aesthetic and cultural, with all their might, engaging topics as diverse as colorism, gender expression and alternate concepts of beauty. Nancy Barr, who heads the museum’s Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, calls the exhibition “inspiring,” and says she’s been gratified by “how easily visitors are connecting with the imagery and quotes from the photographers.” Given the punchiness and variety of pictures on display, that’s no surprise.

Dana Scruggs, Nyadhour, Elevated, Death Valley, California, 2018, photo print.

 Start with Dana Scruggs. This Chicago-born artist, whose work has appeared in GQ, ESPN magazine, and Rolling Stone, has finessed the fine art of highlighting the drama in very dark skin, playing with an almost Caravaggio-like chiaroscuro that gives her work remarkable tone and depth. The models in question, of course, are the sorts who in an earlier, more-colorist era, would likely have been shunned as “too Black.” But in Scruggs’ prints, their chiseled features and sculpted bodies pass beyond mere beauty into something more profound — an almost mythic presence, simultaneously universal and individual.

Her 2018 “Nyadhour, Elevated, Death Valley, California” is one of the most captivating images in a show full of them. The lean, striking American model Nyadhour Deng wears a one-piece black swimsuit that virtually disappears against her skin in the blinding desert glare. She appears to be one-third of the way into a cartwheel – both hands planted in the sand, and one leg starting its aerial rotation. The odd, arched pose is echoed by the sharp shadow beneath. Set against sun-baked dunes, the composition reads more like contemporary sculpture than a fashion shoot.

Daniel Obasi, from Lagos, Nigeria, also creates something monumental with his remarkable tableau, “Moments of Youth,” featuring four young men fashionably attired in tropical colors, and shot from below as they balance precariously on the prow of a wooden vessel. This being a fashion shoot (first published in the journal Primary Paper), the bare-chested man in front in the 1940s-style slacks has a green, gauzy fabric wrapped about his black-marble torso, but while setting up a cool visual contrast, it does nothing to lessen the photo’s heroic vibe.

Daniel Obasi, Moments of Youth, Lagos, Nigeria, 2019, photo print

 Color, in this case, strong pink, plays a huge role in Tyler Mitchell’s 2019 “Untitled (Hijab Couture), New York,” resulting in an image that’s both puckish and breathtaking. Its young beauty is encased, as it were, from head to toe by a garment made of huge, pink flower petals that form a sort of impenetrable shell. For all the hauteur in the young woman’s eyes above her pink-pink lips, Mitchell – whose September 2018 Vogue cover shot of Beyoncé was a first, remarkably, for a Black photographer – has created an intimate, albeit intense, portrait. So too with his “Untitled (Hat), New York, 2018,” a gender-bending study of a young man with challenging eyes beneath a large, tilt-disc hat of the sort favored by British royalty.

(Visitors who enjoy “Black Vanguard’s” intensely colorful display might also want to walk through “Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite,” a black-and-white show of work from the 1960s that’s up at the museum through Jan. 16.)

Tyler Mitchell, Untitled (Hijab Couture), New York, 2019, photo print

For her part, Detroit artist Shirley Woodson, now in her mid-80s, has had quite a year. Last January, she was named the Kresge Foundation’s 2021 Eminent Artist, an honor that spotlights a lifetime of artistic achievement and community engagement, and comes with a $50,000 no-strings stipend. And earlier this fall, Detroit Artists Market hosted a career retrospective, “Shirley Woodson: Why Do I Delight,” which closed just before Halloween.

Now comes the artist’s first solo show at the DIA, “Shirley Woodson: Shield of the Nile Reflections,” with 11 brightly colored canvases guaranteed to staunch your seasonal affective disorder. As the title suggests, a river runs through almost all of these, Woodson’s testament to the spiritual and cultural significance of the Nile for Black Africans, both on the continent and in the diaspora.

Detroit artist Allie McGhee (whose solo show, “Banana Moon Horn,” is up at the Cranbrook Art Museum through March 20), calls Woodson’s richly textured style “a sort of bridge between abstract and Impressionism,” and there’s no denying her freely rendered, lush canvases pack a vibrance and hard-to-define emotional punch. Wielding vivid color, symbols and figures, Woodson creates bright, inscrutable canvases laden with totemic meaning. Interestingly, however, most of her female figures look out at the world with blank faces. The artist explains she doesn’t assign them features “because I think the viewer can become a part of the work using [their] own imagination.”

Shirley Woodson, Shield of the Nile Reflectins, installment image,

As it happens, Woodson – a longtime Detroit Public Schools art teacher with graduate degrees from Wayne State University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago — has been working with the Nile for decades, seeing in the world’s longest river a metaphor for Africa and the African experience generally. With her 1984 “Shield of the Nile, No. 2,” a pair of women deeply immersed in water balance an oval shield between them. The two, apparently treading the rainbow-hued water, are also armed with arrows, suggesting a fierceness that calls to mind the legendary Amazons. Indeed, Woodson has said her figures were partly inspired in part by another mythic figure, Diana, Roman goddess of the hunt. But for all its possible symbolism, “Shield of the Nile” succeeds most extravagantly as a lavish color study whose warmth you can practically feel from across the room.

Shirley Woodson, Shield of the Nile, No. 2, Acrylic on canvas, 1984.

In “Flight with Mirror,” a 2014 work starring a determined-looking woman riding a horse through the waters, the artist has constructed a scene of seeming triumph, never mind the title,  that underlines women’s power and innate creativity long ignored by a male-dominated cultural elite. Interestingly, this woman, unlike so many of her figures, is fully equipped with facial features. If you’re tempted to see Woodson herself in the painting, go right ahead.

Her longtime friend and protégé, the late Gilda Snowden — quoted in the Kresge Foundation monograph “A Palette for the People: The Vibrant World of Shirley Woodson” – put it as well as anyone: “Shirley deftly unites color, myths, historical references with a little bit of magic into works that are glorious renditions of what life could be and should be.”

Shirley Woodson, Flight with Mirror, Acrylic on canvas, 2014.

The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion” will be at the Detroit Institute of Arts through April 17. “Shirley Woodson: Shield of the Nile Reflections” will come down June 12, 2022.

 

Rosalind Tallmadge @ David Klein Gallery

David Klein Gallery Hosts Rosalind Tallmadge Exhibition: Terrain

The lion’s share of Rosalind Tallmadge’s large, luminous paintings in “Terrain” at Detroit’s David Klein Gallery call to mind relief maps, drone’s-eye views of alien, metallic worlds with surfaces both beautiful and hard, and utterly inhospitable to human life. The show, which features work all completed in 2021, is up through Dec. 18, 2021.

But these light-filled, fraught surfaces are actually more earth-bound than you might initially guess because, in addition to piling up natural elements in rich, stratified layers, Tallmadge pulls in a range of man-made materials that evoke both fashion and femininity, whether sequins, glass beads, or glitter. And who doesn’t like glitter?

Installation image of “Rosalind Tallmadge, Terrain,” which is up at Detroit’s David Klein Gallery through Dec. 18. Images courtesy of David Klein Gallery

Several of the most striking pieces on display, including “Ember,” “Dusk Lightning” and “Cross Section X” are so highly reflective, despite their variegated texture, you’d swear they were giving off heat. This is particularly the case with the appropriately named “Ember,” which is covered in a rose-toned gold leaf that resembles polished copper and hooks you with seductive warmth and the lure of the sparkle.

These are paintings with a visceral physical presence, products of a creative synthesis Tallmadge, a 2015 Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate now living in Brooklyn, N.Y., terms “disco alchemy.” For all their brightness, these works ideally call for consideration over the long term, an unhurried process of getting to know the idiosyncratic geography on each sequin-fabric canvas. They’re not cheap dates. They’ll reveal even more of themselves over time.

The rewards associated with this work, it must be noted, are not of the chirpy sort. The paintings exude an almost Cassandra-like vibe, glimpses of an out-of-control future, however glittering. Some pieces are utterly beautiful – there’s no other word. But they’re all grave in aspect as if they sprang from worlds where the zeitgeist is grim.

Rosalind Tallmadge, “Cross Section XII,” Pewter leaf, mica flakes & powdered glass on sequin fabric, 20 x 16 inches, 2021.

Unspooling the cosmic metaphor a bit further, Tallmadge has invested these works with a certain timelessness, geologic in breadth, that seems to span millennia by the hundreds. There’s something ancient and fire-blasted about them. Indeed, some look very much like metallic lava of impossible purity, somehow produced in the igneous cataclysm of a volcanic eruption. Or perhaps they’re the product not of catastrophe but unending, unyielding metamorphic heat and pressure, like gemstones. In any case, time hangs heavy on them. Little wonder, perhaps, that a 2018 exhibition Tallmadge had at Marquee Projects in Bellport, N.Y. was titled “Deep Time.” For its part, Brooklyn’s Carvalho Park gallery, where Tallmadge had a show in 2019, termed the Cincinnati native’s work “nebulous and spectral.”

This is what you hope for when you’re a serious art student. Shortly after Tallmadge got out of grad school, David Klein mounted a solo show for her in 2016. Her work has also been exhibited in New York City, Seattle, and Chicago. Prestigious residences she’s snagged include ones at the Oxbow School of Art and the Yale Summer School of Art.

For her part, Tallmadge says in her artist’s statement that she wants to create “elusive, experiential paintings that activate the viewer’s body through their seductive light-based surfaces.” They’re meant to evoke, she adds, “degraded urban surfaces or worn rocks you would happen upon in nature.”

The online, French-language mezzanine notes that Tallmadge “does not paint canvases. She creates atmosphere.” The journal added, “With her, the celestial immensity becomes tangible, though always remains mysterious.” For her part, the artist responds to a question by noting that her paintings “are also a reflection of my daily life in New York. The asphalt surfaces, the worn-out sidewalks, and subway walls furnish my subconscious.”

Rosalind Tallmadge, “Ember,” 22K rose gold leaf, mica flakes & glass beads on sequin fabric, 64 x 60 inches, 2021. An oblique angle highlights Tallmadge’s remarkably textured surfaces.

The natural material that Tallmadge employs most, jammed up against her beads, glitter, and sequins, is mica. There’s an intriguing balancing act going on here between, to use the terms very loosely, the feminine and the masculine. Falling into the latter category are surely the chunks of glittering mica – a shiny form of silica that breaks into wafer-thin, translucent layers—that Tallmadge employs all over her thickly textured canvases. There’s something in mica’s very instability, always threatening to fracture, that plays a role here as if to say, “I glitter, but beware – I’m also brittle. I shatter.”

Rosalind Tallmadge, “Omen,” Mica stone, liquid glass concentrate & pumice on birch panel, 30 x 30 inches, 2021.

 These qualities are on full display with “Omen” and “Estuary,” both crafted from larger pieces of mica stone and pumice. They’ve got smoother surfaces, a break from Tallmadge’s rich impasto elsewhere, and are less raked and eroded than many of the other works on display. “Omen” almost looks like one sheet of black-brown glass that’s been violently shattered but still miraculously holds together. “Estuary,” despite its riverine name, when viewed up-close, looks a bit like the inside of an astonishing geode when you’ve sawed a rock in half and polished the surface.

By contrast, “Cross Section XII,” fabricated with powdered glass and pewter leaf – Who knew?— is blistered and brooding. To return once again to the planetary metaphor, it looks a bit like a silvery moon that’s been battered and scoured by solar winds and remorseless radiation.

Rosalind Tallmadge, “Ember” (detail), 22K rose gold leaf, mica flakes & glass beads on sequin fabric, 64 x 60 inches, 2021.

Particularly with the most heavily textured canvases, it’s fun to examine the surface off to one side and at an acute angle to maximize your appreciation of just how 3-D and stratified these meticulous constructions really are. It’s also gratifying that this is a spaciously hung show, with no cramming works together in unnatural, close proximity. This is important in part because of the glow most of these give off, a nimbus you wouldn’t want competing with radiance from another work right next door.

Rosalind Tallmadge, Terrain” will be up at the David Klein Gallery in Detroit through Dec. 18, 2021

 

“Notes from the Quarantimes” @ Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

Five-hundred-year floods, particularly in the midst of a pandemic, don’t ordinarily generate intriguing art shows, but that’s precisely the origin story of “Notes from the Quarantimes” at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum in Saginaw through Jan. 15, 2022.

Following a seven-inch deluge in May 2020, the Edenville Dam north of Midland crumbled, disgorging, according to the “Quarantimes’” program with the artist statements, 22.5 billion gallons of Wixom Lake that gushed downstream, in minutes scooping out the original route of the Tittabawassee River, uprooting houses and fully grown trees alike. One of the homes near the dam, damaged but not destroyed, has been owned by artist Andrew Krieger’s family since 1955.

“Notes from the Quarantimes” is up at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum on the Saginaw Valley State University campus through Jan. 15, 2022

“It was nutty,” Krieger said of the day the waters rose. “A Consumer’s Power guy who was nearby said our house was going to float away any minute” — but perhaps miraculously, it did not.  That said, things were nip and tuck for a while, but the Kriegers essentially lucked out. Their basement was submerged and ended up with a foot of muck at the bottom, but the waters stopped eight inches short of their first floor. The wooded area around the house, however, was turned into a veritable moonscape in a matter of hours, with craters where entire root systems of giant trees had been wrenched free. Krieger figures they lost about 100 trees, many planted by his father; his brother says 200. In any case, the clean-up task was herculean. The day after the flood, an exhausted Krieger texted five of his best art buddies: “I need help. Overwhelmed and sad.”’

They all rallied. In short order, Mitch Cope, Scott Hocking, Michael McGillis, Clinton Snider and Graem Whyte were all at the house, and each of them would continue to return on a regular basis over the next year, a nice testament to the quality of the friendships involved.

Krieger says the group had already been talking pre-flood about doing an exhibition together but hadn’t yet hit on a concept. “I think,” he added, “it was Graem Whyte who said, ‘This is the show. It’s about us coming up and helping you, and Edenville, and this pandemic.’” The result is a good-looking, spirited exhibition of considerable artistic diversity that reflects both the Sturm und Drang involved in simultaneously coping with a vicious virus and the cataclysmic consequences of climate change.

Clinton Snider “After the Flood,” Oil on panel, 2021

Clinton Snider’s “After the Flood” tackles the catastrophe head-on, with a melancholy portrait of the six friends surveying a ravaged landscape, with Krieger himself at center standing on a rock surrounded by the newly trenched stream. Like so many of Snider’s paintings, the light is muted and sepulchral – the artist says he favors early dawn light. In tone and feel, “After the Flood” evokes much the same mournful vibe as Snider’s 2005 portrait, “Studebaker Razed,” which captured the abandoned Detroit factory the morning after its catastrophic fire.

Another compelling visual statement directly tied to the dam disaster is Whyte’s amusingly titled “Batten Down the Hatches.” This large installation, lying prone on the gallery floor, stars a debris pile bound together with yellow ratchet straps. Among its disparate elements are a toppled ornamental lamp post – its five globes still lit, in a nice touch – and a tree-length log with long, carved toes, as if Treebeard, the walking, talking, tree-like “ent” in “Lord of the Rings,” had lost a limb.

Graem Whyte, “Batten Down the Hatches,” Maple, found lamp post, cast aluminum, wheel, paint on wood, ratchet straps, 2021

And don’t miss – well, really you can’t miss – Whyte’s “Vortex of Janus” smack in the center of the gallery. This mechanical construction on wheels is very big, maybe five feet tall, or so – a tapering, octagonal, open-ended kaleidoscope. The interior metal sides appear to be swirling, a nice optical illusion created by a pattern of clean, sharp-edged parallelograms and the occasional through-line in vivid hues. Besides creating an intriguingly kinetic visual – you immediately see how water forced through the vortex would rush out the smaller end with multiplied force – this is an elegant, absorbing color study dominated by shades of green, black, and surprising bursts of orange and lavender.

Funny and tragic both is Michael McGillis’ “Poseidon’s Throne” that blends a reference to cottage life with ugly reality. In his artist’s statement, McGillis says he’s always been interested in landscape and human scale, and with “Throne” he’s sculpted a convincing diorama of a bend in a new stream that’s clearly raked its way through a now-barren landscape. At one end, as if to underline the absurdity of it all, a cheerful, orange Adirondack chair sits mostly submerged, already acquiring a green, river-scum patina below the waterline.

Michael McGillis, “Poseidon’s Throne” (detail), Mixed media, 2021

Dominating the far wall as you walk in is Scott Hocking’s sizable installation, “Woodsmun of the Forest,” as well as one of two videos the artist made while kayaking around both the Edenville disaster and waterways in the Detroit area. Sparingly narrated by Hocking, the videos — in particular “Kayaking through the Quarantimes” — are mesmerizing, pretty gorgeous and, on occasion downright funny.

HOCKING VIDEO: “Kayaking through the Quarantimes” 19 Minutes

For its part, “Woodsmun” is a triptych comprised of large tree parts that were either submerged almost 100 years ago when the Edenville Dam was erected or else fell or washed in sometime over recent decades. The central element is a huge, distressed trunk partly suspended from the ceiling, framed by smaller, sculptural wood forms. In a puckish touch mostly on the backside of the installation, Hocking’s integrated man-made artifacts – some would say trash – that he retrieved from the drained lake, including a rope, rusted beer cans, and a large ornamental daisy that’s got “1970s perky bad taste” written all over it.

For his part, Krieger has mounted a number of color photographs of what remains of the dam, as well as landscapes including “Tittabawassee Sunset #1.” That image fills up a clear, cylindrical container rather like a scientific specimen, or last year’s preserved tomatoes. But the artist’s biggest crowd-pleaser is likely to be “Last Day on Earth,” an off-white ceramic sculpture of a hopeless fellow maybe two feet tall with a sign wrapped around his midriff that proclaims “DOOM,” and adds, just to make sure passers-by get the point, “Our last day on earth and the end of human existence.”

Andrew Krieger, “Last Day on Earth,” Ceramic, 2021

But apocalypse or no, this being America, as you read down you realize the sign’s actually an ad urging you to “enjoy” your last meal at Howie’s Soda Bar with its celebrated “good food” and “reasonable prices.” Because even in the midst of apocalypse, you want value for your money, right?

Finally, standing somewhat apart in tone and size are Mitch Cope’s three colored-pencil water lily studies. Each of these large, square canvases also invokes one of three planets in a somewhat cryptic fashion – specifically the moon, Saturn and Jupiter. They’re handsome, restful works. In a show devoted to destruction, Cope’s vividly colored drawings radiate hopeful calm and underline the healing power of looking closely at nature. The three are a lovely balance to the sharper narratives on display all around them.

Mitch Cope, “Water Lili #1 Jupiter,” Colored pencil on paper, 2021

Clinton Snider, Tree of Eden, 2021, 53 sec.

“Notes from the Quarantimes” is on display at  Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum through January 15, 2022.

 

 

 

 

Yigal Ozeri @ Flint Institute of Arts

Brush with Reality: Yigal Ozeri at the Flint Institute of Arts

“Brush with Reality: Yigal Ozeri” at the Flint Institute of Arts through Jan. 2, is a career retrospective of the painter’s large-scale, striking portraits that read like photographs. It’s a handsome, accessible exhibition that makes for a good introduction to the FIA, if you’ve yet to visit, located in a polychrome modern building in Flint’s Cultural Center.

The temptation is to call the Israeli-born Ozeri’s work “photorealist,” but it’s a term the artist, who’s lived and worked in New York City for years, doesn’t apply to himself – never mind his admiration for the genre.

“Brush with Reality: Yigal Ozeri” at Flint Institute of Arts, All images by Michael H. Hodges

Ozeri, with works in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Israel Museum, among others, deliberately deviates from the photorealist playbook. “He said he wants to deconstruct photography,” says Tracee J. Glab, FIA curator of collections and exhibitions who organized the show.  “It all starts with the photographs,” she adds, mostly taken by the artist’s daughter, “but from there he then decides what parts he wants to make precise and hyper-realistic, and what parts more soft-focused and impressionist.” Additionally, Ozeri’s work stands out in another significant way – most photorealist painters focus on inanimate objects and symbols of modernity like cars, roadside diners, or California swimming pools. Few do people.

The result is a collection of canvases of remarkable depth and technical skill. Over half the gallery space is given to the artist’s trademark portraits of pretty young women in landscapes – more on that in a moment — with the rest drawn from a series of urban New York scenes.

Among the latter, the 2018 “Untitled; Cristal” features a somber, young African-American woman in a full fur coat in the middle of a Manhattan avenue, staring straight at the viewer — typical of much of Ozeri’s portraiture. It’s part of the composition’s power that it both conveys a strong sense of the subject’s character, as well the impression that New York City on either side of her is hurtling at you full blast.

Yigal Ozeri, Untitled; Cristal, 2018, oil on canvas, Collection of the Artist, NJ.

The painting is curator Glab’s favorite among the New York series. “With the distortions on either side of her,” she says, “it really captures what it’s like to be in New York City, overwhelmed.”

One of the most hyper-realist treatments is “Lizzie in the Park.” Take a good look at the cascade of blond and brown hair falling out from her black hood. You read precisely how it would feel to the touch. It’s a minor detail in its way, and yet the one that totally makes the painting – and one you can hardly take your eyes off. By contrast, the snowy, woodsy background behind her is all low depth of field. Was that the nature of the actual photograph, or has the artist softened things to make the subject pop? You decide.

Yigal Ozeri, Lizzie in the Park, 2010, oil on paper, Collection of Wayne F. Yakes, MD.

But not all of Ozeri’s portraits come with such a sharp focus. With “Untitled; Olya” from 2015, the young woman on a wind-swept beach is rendered in soft focus, which in this case adds a certain urgency. And if you look closely, the remarkable brushwork almost creates three dimensions out of two. It’s a gorgeous image, yet one that calls to mind the inevitable questions of 2021 – in this case, whether it’s entirely seemly to stage an exhibition of pretty young women painted by a man born in 1958.

Yigal Ozeri, Untitled; Olya (detail), 2015. Oil on canvas, 54 x 80 in. Collection of Louis K. and Susan P. Meisel.

It’s an issue Glab freely admits she pondered. “I definitely questioned that as a woman and feminist,” she says. “I asked Ozeri – why women? And his answer was that he felt he was depicting their power.” Additionally, he told her all the models are paid, and while Ozeri picks the locations, from city streets to the Costa Rican jungle, the models (occasionally men) choose how they want to be depicted – whether lying in shallow water in a stunning red dress as with 2012’s “Untitled; Territory,” or in a harvested field in “Untitled; COVID Wheat Field” from last year.

“I liked that answer,” Glab said. And she’s also solicited feedback from visitors, none of whom have had any complaints. Glab thinks this is in part because while the gaze is indisputably male, it’s neither exploitative nor condescending. These women, gorgeous though they all may be, are presented as individuals with force and power and not as pin-ups. Their direct stares challenge us to imagine they were anything but knowing and willing participants in this process.

Breaking the mold in part because of its strong emotions is the aforementioned “Untitled; COVID Wheat Field.” A young black man in a sweater and face mask has collapsed, seemingly ecstatic, in an autumnal field. Under a glowering sky, he radiates unexpected delight and joy – a contrast to Ozeri’s mostly sober, enigmatic women. Indeed, while the season around him is all wrong, the subject personifies the giddy rapture so many of us felt early this summer when liberty seemed at hand before the Delta variant really started to bite.

Yigal Ozeri, Untitled; COVID Wheat Field, 2020. Oil on canvas. Doron Sebbag Art Collection, ORS Ltd., Tel Aviv.

Included within the New York series, though completely out of place geographically, is a portrait of a cheerful guy in a lavishly decked out Israeli candy store in 2019’s “Untitled; A Tel Aviv Story” – and his American analogue running  a candy-packed, Manhattan kiosk in “Untitled: A New York Story,” also from 2019. But for those who adore the gritty romance of the Big Apple, Ozeri’s nighttime painting of a New York intersection is particularly persuasive, with car headlights providing visual drama. It’s chock full of banal details from New York street life – the cars, the recently painted bike lane, the construction cones and the construction worker, the jaywalker, and the receding parade of eight-story buildings with lighted windows here and there marching toward the vanishing point. It’s enough to make the impressionable fall in love with New York all over again.

Yigal Ozeri, Untitled; New York, 2020. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Artist, NJ.

 

“Brush with Reality: Yigal Ozeri” will be up at the Flint Institute of Arts, which is free on Saturdays, through Jan. 2.

 

 

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