Judy Glantzman Reinterprets Paintings of Past Wars
A few years ago, Glantzman saw Betty Cuningham Gallery, which featured a series of wild, violent, gestural meditations (acrylic, ink, and graphite works on canvas and paper) on the nature of war. Now, in “Dressing for the Carnival,” her fifth show with the Lower East Side gallery, Glantzman is presenting another intensive project based on a classic painting: said the artist, who has created a sprawling, layered show based on studying and reinterpreting the single work. “I made pen drawings, mapping relationships…I found deep levels of complexity: formal, racial, American relationships.”
Glantzman has said that she “learns from going to extremes” and this show is certainly no exception with its arrangement of gridded works, each a variation on a theme strategically placed to lead the viewer through the artist’s deconstruction of Homer’s original. At the center of the show lies what Glantzman refers to as “the Grand Stage,” two multi-part collages drawing on iconography the artist has developed over time—one that fuses intimate references (expressive, disembodied faces and hands) and universal symbols (flowers, globes, and skulls).
Surrounding the collages, two series of smaller scale paintings and drawings—“the actors” and “the calendar”—show the careful, iterative labor she performed to create this particular lexicon. In “the actors,” a compilation of small portraits, Glantzman has painted and re-painted the faces of figures from the original Dressing for the Carnival. In addition to the multigenerational black Americans portrayed in Homer’s painting, Glantzman also depicts French
Across the gallery, “the calendars” includes six drawings that the artist created over a period of several months, sketching and re-sketching scenes from her thoughts. Works in this series—like Fergusson (2014), which shows a jumble of brown hands and explosive marks—exemplify how eloquently Glantzman merges contemporary events with Homer’s storied, politically charged scene. We are left to wonder how much has changed since Dressing for the Carnival was painted.
“Dressing For The Carnival” is on view at Betty Cuningham Gallery, New York, Sep. 9–Oct. 17, 2015.