Opening this week at Gallery Bergelli, a group show of four painters celebrates the dog days of summer. Named after the famous 1966 surf movie, The Endless Summer, the exhibition captures the season’s scenes, colors, feelings, and clothes. Amy Lincoln, Anna Valdez, Emma Webster, and Helena Wurzel variously present abstract and representational paintings, all balmy and nonchalant in their imagery, but studious in their execution.
Emma Webster has spent much of her life in the United States, but was educated at the Slade School of Art in the U.K., and the British penchant for figuration is apparent even in her most abstract mixed media paintings. Her work focuses largely on her relationship with her sister and other family members, and their bodies—copied from the family photographs and home movies she uses as reference materials—can be seen hidden in the layers of paint, pencil, and ink. In Ginger Where’d You Go? (2014), Webster applies colorful brush strokes to compose a rich jungle landscape. In the center, a girl in a Union Jack bathing suit appears to dance in swirls of pigment. Similar to the dissolving figuration of painters such as Dana Schutz and Judith Linhares, Webster’s paintings stitch together abstract gestures into a legible portrait.
In the work of Amy Lincoln and Anna Valdez, private spaces and moments are represented as epicenters of emotional significance. In Valdez’s Coffee and Lavender and Picnic (both 2014), leisurely moments of reading, eating, and enjoying the company of others are depicted, without the participants in the picture’s frame. Instead, Valdez focuses on the patterns of blankets, the texture of berries and drinks, and the atmospheric light of an afternoon in a meadow or a morning on a porch. Lincoln’s still lifes, such as Brooklyn Still Life and Tokyo Still Life #2 (both 2010), sometimes include elements of self-portraiture, but also give a full sense of the artist-sitter by incorporating elements of the space in which they’re executed, including houseplants, decorations, and furniture. In her Henri Rousseau-like landscapes, Lincoln is careful to capture the emotional and physical space and feeling of a particular experience, rendering them as almost abstract or animated formal elements.
Finally, Helena Wurzel shows social moments in the year’s longest and hottest days. Double Blonde (2014) depicts a bird’s eye view of twin blondes lying across a colorful blanket, napping in the sun. They lay in opposite directions and both face outward toward the edges of the picture plane, creating a compositional structure from their symmetry. Similar to painters such as Alex Katz and Eric Fischl, Wurzel invokes all the sensations of the season with reserved portraits of people in repose.
“Endless Summer” is on view at Gallery Bergelli, Larkspur, California, Sept. 4th – Oct. 16th, 2014.