The Look of Summer
James Wolanin and Jane Maxwell bring the look of summer to NYC inContemporary Consciousness featuring acrylic and resin works by Wolanin and mixed media and resin works by Maxwell.
The candy colored, blissfully bright palette in acrylic and resin of James Wolanin is as refreshing as an icy glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. The sun drenched hues bring a vintage-cool aesthetic to the visual symbols of the 60s and 70s that populate the work. In many ways the works have an almost abstract quality - the immediate, photographic compositions create large, flat, color fields emphasized by pattern and repetition. Wolanin’s work is not merely surface level however. Drawing inspiration from vintage ads, the artist explores visual associations of representations of women in the latter half of the 20th century. However, it is the gaze of the subjects of his compositions that draw the viewer forward. As in the aptly named Mona Lisa of the Motorway, we are left guessing at the truth behind their intriguing, mysteriously smiling visages, as the women pose, play and frolic.
While Jane Maxwell’s work also focuses on the female figure, the facial expression is obscured as only the silhouettes emerge from the dimensional, textural, backgrounds clad in the vestiges of paper ephemera. Unlike the flattened surface of Wolanin’s works, Maxwell emphasizes texture through layering and building up the surface. The enigmatic quality of the works is emphasized by Maxwell’s use of ads and billboard materials that reveal words and phrases that tease us with alluring allusions. The enigmatic, anonymous figures have a definitive flair and attitude, keeping us at a distance, while pulling us further into their multi-dimensional narratives.
The figures in the work of both Wolanin and Maxwell are in a constant state of flux and transition. There is a certain ephemeral quality that both artists explore, with the figures captured in a moment, drawing us in but not letting our gaze penetrate beyond a certain point. The works lead us to create our own narratives from the visual dialogues present.
Contemporary Consciousness with James Wolanin and Jane Maxwell opens June 1st, with a reception 6-8pm at JoAnne Artman Gallery, 511A West 22nd Street, New York, NY.