1932-2020: Girl Before A Mirror

JoAnne Artman Gallery
Feb 29, 2020 5:09PM

A marker of a great work of art is its timelessness. In JoAnne Artman Gallery, New York’s Fall 2020 exhibition, Yes, Masters: A MANthology, pays homage to the past by putting a present-day spin on age-old masterpieces. Daring to assume a different artistic paradigm that combines 20th century attitude with traditional European sensibility, the culmination is a shared dialogue challenging conventional narratives in art with expressive color and a focus on figuration. Playful and satirical, contemporary adaptations of art history merge the classical with the commodification of art in pop culture and mass media, all while bringing Old Masters into a new world.

Integrating palettes emblematic of various past art movements, artist James Wolanin infuses his portraits with the recognizable colorations of the Old Masters. Rendered in a precise, hard-edged style, using resin as a finish, Wolanin does not simply paint a scene, but constructs a fragment of narrative. Suggesting entire relationships and personalities through a character’s pose or glance, flat planes of color and a nod to minimalist tonal transitions help the works read on an abstract level, creating a deeper resonance between visual elements.

James Wolanin
Girl Before A Mirror (Picasso), 2020
JoAnne Artman Gallery

“This new work freed me to explore some different styles, sent me down some paths that I normally wouldn’t have traveled. What’s great is when push yourself out your comfort zone, some wonderful artistic breakthroughs begin to happen. Maybe some bits and pieces of these new works will find their way into some future paintings,” says Wolanin.

Channeling his pop sensibility, Wolanin appropriates Picasso’s Girl Before A Mirror, transforming it into a contemporary revival.

“Pop culture of the 1960’s has had a lasting effect on me culturally and artistically. Not necessarily the political turbulence of that period, but more of revisiting a time of innocence. Although I was young, these early childhood memories of this era have endured to the point where it’s become my primary artistic inspiration.”

Pablo Picasso
Girl before a Mirror, 1932

Picasso’s original Girl Before a Mirror was painted in 1932. Depicting his muse, Marie Therese Walter, Picasso paints a woman looking in the mirror at her reflection. On top of this duality of imagery, the faces of both the woman and the reflection are bifurcated into different colorations, which suggests a duality of nature within both the girl and her reflected image. In a colorful palette of pinks, yellows, and greens juxtaposed with vibrant reds and dark blacks, the skin and face of the girl in side profile is delicately beautiful in contrast with the rest of the painting. In contrast, the reflected face is in a full frontal perspective, darkly colored with facial features that are much less traditionally beautiful. The mirror and the reflected subject suggest one possibility for her own view of herself.

In Wolanin’s version, his figure sees Picasso’s portrait of Marie Therese in her reflection. Although rendered in brighter colors indicative of Wolanin’s other oeuvre, he similarly includes the bold and patterned background of Picasso’s original. Gazing at her reflection, Wolanin’s interpretation alludes to the female figure not only looking at herself, but also looking back at the past. Using art history as a stepping-stone for newfound interpretations, Wolanin acknowledge the legacy of Pablo Picasso in his own modern and spirited anthology.



Artists’ Reception: Thursday, September 10th, 2020 from 6pm-8pm

JoAnne Artman Gallery

511A West 22nd St. | New York, NY 10011

Telephone: 949-510-5481 | E-mail: [email protected]

Website: www.joanneartmangallery.com

JoAnne Artman Gallery