A Vibrant Pairing of Flower Paintings and Embroidered Towels

A new exhibition curated by Manhattan gallerist Elliott Levenglick, “Summer Hours,” features striking, gestural works by Rachel Rossin and Freddy Tuppen.

From afar, Tuppen’s Room 402, The Regency Hotel (2015) could be mistaken for a two-tone screen print; up close, it is clearly comprised of two towels. Domestic objects like a lampshade, floor plant, and window curtain are embroidered in black, woolen lines. Together, these items suggest a decorated, interior space—striking against the backsplash of kelly green and white towels. In Oasis Leisure Center (2015) textural details like wavy lines and sea animals appear on a buttery yellow beach towel, contrasting with a solid white hotel towel. Minimal lines—depicting another plant, an area rug, a sparse window—are stitched in bold, black squiggles on top.

Unlike the flat forms of Tuppen’s work, it is not difficult to imagine flowers in Rossin’s landscape paintings as independent, sculptural objects. Each painting features a unique whirl of prismatic colors and swirling gestural brushstrokes. In Hyacinth and Water Lilies (2015), a floral bouquet expands outward in impossible angles and bends back into an interlocking curl. Blue, white, and lilac coalesce at the hyacinth’s crest, creating a harmonious, if hybridized mix of color. In Portmanteau (2015), large tulips burst from a foreground plane and dissolve into the background, becoming increasingly abstract as they snake along a path leading up to mountains in the background.  

It would be reductive to characterize any one of Rossin’s paintings as a simple floral landscape or a pastoral scene. In effect, each work presents a distinct world that challenges conventional representations of space. (In reference to an installation earlier this year at a Bushwick gallery, the New York Times aptly described the artist’s imagined environment as a “Dante-esque virtual reality.”) Cherry Blossoms (2015) bursts with this created reality; while a path lined with the eponymous trees seems to follow traditional perspective, the swirls of colors moving back and forth along the canopy complicate the path’s linear nature. Rather than focusing on simply depicting or representing nature, Rossin creates new, expressive forms in her paintings, crafting rules for how these forms might embody their space as she works.

The works use diversified materials to explore subjects and themes that reflect the vibrancy associated with the summer, in remarkably varied ways. What results is a spirited exploration of color and dimension, as well as organic and inorganic form.


—Anna Furman


“Summer Hours” is on view by appointment only.


Follow Elliott Levenglick Gallery on Artsy.

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