The Curator Gallery is pleased to present 180°, Encaustic in Contemporary Art, curated by Nancy Hubbard and featuring the work of Bryan Christie, Betsy Eby, Margaret Noel, Lisa Pressman, and Alex Schuchard. The exhibit explores a wide range of the current use of encaustic, an ancient wax-based process.
From the ancient Fayum mummy portraits of Roman Egypt to the iconic American flags painted by Jasper Johns in the 1950s, encaustic painting endured a long, dormant history and only experienced a revival in the mid to late twentieth century with the advent of electric heating tools.
Meaning “to burn in,” the term encaustic describes a technique that utilizes molten beeswax. Traditionally the beeswax is mixed at 180° Fahrenheit with resin and pigment that the artist applies to any ground in layers. In the final step, the artist ”burns in” the mixture, fusing and bonding the work permanently to the surface. The final result can range from a complete, dense opacity to a delicate, revealing transparency, providing the artist with almost limitless possibility.
“Each artist has mastered the medium and then adapted it to his or her practice and the end result of the exhibition is a cohesive body of work that captures not only the versatility of the encaustic process, but its ability to remain a relevant and provocative medium to this day,” says Hubbard. “And at the same time it is thrilling to think that if an artist from Ancient Egypt or Greece were to look at any work in this show, they would grasp the methods used to produce it.”
Bryan Christie uses encaustic together with multiples layers of silk imprinted with the human figure, layer upon layer, as a meditation. By using layers, he masks some of the imagery of the human figure to express the obscurity of the human experience, from the physical to the emotional to the spiritual.
Betsy Eby explores the spiritual and sublime in her work. Using paint with encaustic she attempts to capture the sensory, sensual experience of meditation and contemplation. A gifted classical pianist, she often cites music as a source of inspiration.
Margaret Noel fuses alternating layers of paper, pigment, and wax to build landscapes and interiors. Her collages become exaggerated, colors transformed, and shapes simplified. Each scene feels familiar but half-forgotten—a blurred remembrance rather than a precise rendering.
Lisa Pressman plays with time and memory in her work. Through her process of building and tearing down within the medium, the complex layered surface elicits a visceral response, reshaping its own new history.
Alex Schuchard examines the transient mysterious space that lies somewhere between representation and abstraction. His work begins from a specific source but quickly becomes about light and form and how form can build a painting. While his works may be depictions of natural objects, they are not about trees or water or sky but rather about paint and experience.
Nancy Hubbard is a multidisciplinary artist and curator based in Brooklyn, New York. In her work, she integrates obsolete and rarely used materials and techniques ranging from traditional gessoes and gilding materials to photogravure. She has extensive experience as a restorer and master patineur, collaborating on several of New York’s high-profile restoration and architectural projects, including the Hispanic Society of America, the Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Columbia University, and the New York State Capitol Building, to name a few. Her work has been exhibited in Toronto, Nashville, Washington, D.C., and New York, including The Curator Gallery.
The Curator Gallery is a fine art gallery in Chelsea that collaborates with notable guest curators for each exhibition. Founded and underwritten by Ann S. Moore, the retired Chairman and CEO of Time Inc., the gallery’s mission is to bring exposure to hardworking artists, as well as to educate and expand the pool of engaged, serious collectors.
For more information, please contact Kris Connell at The Curator Gallery, [email protected]