The first solo exhibition in New York for painter Patricia Traub opens at Gallery Henoch on Thursday, November 3, 2016. Traub will attend an opening night vernissage, from 6- 8 pm. The event is free and open to the public.
“Patricia Traub’s harmonious menagerie echoes Edward Hicks’s Peacable Kingdom for a 21st century audience. Hicks, a Quaker preacher, painted over sixty variations on the Bible passage from Isaiah that offers a vision of peace among creatures that would by nature eat one another. His 19th-century images conjure a world redeemed from sin, aspiring to a state of grace before the Maker. Traub’s paintings resound in an era for which ecology and redemption are an urgent, tangible need dependent on action. Small groups of animals and their human companions wait in the darkness of Traub’s shrine-like paintings. These stark, hushed settings contrast with Hicks’s verdant life at the edge of forests. They compel meditation on the here and now, never mind the hereafter.” Exerpt from the exhibition essay by Robert Cozzolino, Curator of Painting at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.
For her inaugural show, Traub’s empathy and activism coalesce in closely studied wildlife vignettes. Her preferred format is to fit her detailed subjects on small panels, 12” x 12”, periodically ranging up to 30” x 30” for selected animals. She depicts mostly mammals and birds, standing or resting in resolute posture against a dark multi-glazed background, effectively the deep soot of the universe. Traub effortlessly “humanizes” her subjects, conveying a distinct individual rather than an archetype of the species: its particular fur, feathers, gesture and weight. In doing so she draws out the consciousness of each Colobus Monkey or Buffalo Weaver, in compositions resembling a modern day Albrecht Dürer. To unpack the significance of each subject, Traub notes every animal has a specific petition, for example, the Rambouillet Ram is bred for its merino wool and is a cornerstone of the meat trade. By isolating the animals on sterile precipices, Traub simultaneously elevates the creature while placing it on display. This reinforces our shared human jurisdiction over their stewardship while avoiding maudlin bromides.
In addition to the single animal portraits, Patricia Traub exhibits several large, complex works that intermingle animals and human keepers, the largest of these measuring 7 feet wide. Traub only studies animals from direct observation, both in captivity and in their natural habitats, resulting in global travel to Borneo, Egypt, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Norway, South Africa, and Tanzania. Through thoughtful posing of the creatures, she conveys a serene sense of equilibrium among the species, one to which she pledges a vigilant watch. She says, “The underlying context in my painting is about our responsibilities to all living things and the environment we all live in.”