Melissa Carter, Chess Master with Blue Gown, 2018, oil on canvas, 72 x 48 in
August 31 - October 13
Reception August 31, 6 - 8 PM
In New Masters, Melissa Carter presents vibrant large-scale paintings that playfully revise the art historical canon and the linked notion of the male-artist-as-genius. Carter’s figurative and abstract pieces reference the work of famed men, from Henri Rousseau and Henri
When dealing with the figure, Carter takes Rousseau’s and Matisse’s work as sources for her compositions. She stylistically appropriates their use of flat areas of vivid color and
Playing with popular imagination, her non-figurative works call to mind the grandeur of the highly masculine Abstract Expressionist movement of the mid-1940s and ‘50s. ‘I’m an Oil Man’ prompts associations between the traditional use of oil paint by artists throughout art history, the cultural celebration of male genius-artists such as Mark Rothko and his color field paintings, and the wealth and prestige generated by both oil moguls and famous male artists who continually outsell and overshadow women artists working contemporaneously. In Carter’s ‘Cosby Sweater’ series, smeary, gestural lines and bold colors resemble the knit texture and ‘80s palette of Bill Cosby’s sweaters. The monumental works conflate the Abstract Expressionist qualities of strength, force, and virility with the allegations of sexual abuse committed by Cosby, provoking a sense of cognitive dissonance surrounding the cultural ties between masculinity and greatness.
These images critique traditionally inadequate methods of art historicization and culturally sanctioned misogyny, both of which devalue the identities and contributions of women as artists, models, and human beings. As one of many groups previously left on the margins of critical and cultural conversation, Carter portrays women now in possession of their own image and at the center of their own experiences, revising the social dynamics and representational possibilities of the histories she engages with.
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