The Space Between - James Wolanin and Jane Maxwell
There has certainly been debate in the past few decades that the distinction between figuration and abstraction in contemporary art has been slowly disappearing. Whether or not you believe this is true, it is hard to argue that artists James Wolanin and Jane Maxwell incorporate into their work a nuanced take on the fine line between the two.
Wolanin’s works are deceptively straightforward in their subject matter, as elements of geometric abstraction can be found in plain sight. Flat planes of color, harmonious repetition of form, pattern and shape all work to take these paintings beyond simple figuration. Simplification of forms is prevalent, such as in the pattern of waves inA Summertime Dream- just one of the numerous art historical references in a nod to Hockney - refined to a hypnotizing harmony in the composition. InSun Bathing, Wolanin repeats the curve of the chin in the curve of the sunglasses, the shoulder, the hair. In a close-up of the piece, the work would appear to be an abstraction. Yet, it is in the culmination of these precisions in color, flatness, line, shape, form, and finish, from which the works take on life (as well as the Mona Lisa smiles that grace each piece).
Jane Maxwell creates collaged works on panel using found paper ephemera such as posters, flyers and even subway maps. Striking female silhouettes stride and sashay through planes of color and pattern, their shapes simplified and reminiscent of paper cut outs. The colorful, and often sculptural, pieces work entirely as abstract compositions, as the figurative aspects of the female form can be seen as a building block for the more complex collage components. However, here too the finished pieces best work as a dialogue amongst the elements of abstraction and figuration, as well as fluidity, stillness, movement, and the spaces between.
Works by James Wolanin and Jane Maxwell are currently on view in NYC in “Contemporary Consciousness” at JoAnne Artman Gallery, closing next Saturday, August 26th!
JoAnne Artman Gallery | 511A West 22nd St. New York NY 10011 || www.joanneartmangallery.com