Opening Reception: Wednesday, July 21 from 4:00 to 7:00 PM
David Richard Gallery, LLC 211 East 121 ST | New York, NY 10035
David Richard Gallery is pleased to present Slow Burn by artist Galen Cheney in her first solo exhibition with the gallery in New York. The presentation includes 14 paintings from 2014 through 2021 that fall basically into two categories based on the artist’s approach: painting on a stretched canvas versus painting in an unconfined way on unstretched supports that includes the addition of collaged canvas elements, fabrics and other materials that are then either stretched or hung unstretched as a tapestry.
Not surprising, the imagery is also distinctly different between the two approaches. First, color, vivid color, is a key component with both approaches. Second, the compositions differ between the two methodologies in that the paintings emerging on the stretched supports are a mix of gestural strokes, textured and sometimes impasto passages with blocky and layered forms of color and a balanced composition across the canvases.
However, in the recently developed unbounded method, the compositions seem to evolve, more spontaneous with notable use of lyrical and directional lines that radiate from within the compositions, running off the canvas or into other collaged elements and a greater use of defined shapes ranging from geometric to loops and long sweeping curves—all combined with her love of nonobjective gestural and color field approaches to painting.
About the Exhibition:
The primary curatorial objective of the presentation is the contrast between not only Cheney’s two painting approaches, but the resulting differences in the compositions and imagery between the oil paintings initiated on stretched canvas and the larger collaged paintings initiated on unstretched canvas. However, the bigger question is why, what triggered the experimentation of both working larger and with collaged canvases not on supports?
Cheney’s oil paintings on stretched canvas were very much influenced by her studio training, knowledge of art history and passion for Abstract Expressionism. All of her paintings until recently were painted on a stretched support, more out of habit and convention. Her awareness of art history and the rules of the road pressured her internally to make “good” paintings and like most artists, she is her harshest critic and treated a stretched canvas as precious. Cheney’s compositions, color selections and process are all thoughtful and structured around the composition, line and palette on a fixed support—emphasis on “fixed”. As Cheney said, these stretched canvases are an “inside-out approach”. Meaning, the imagery and content come from within and move through her mind and body onto the canvas—lots of thinking and evaluating each action.
The genesis of the larger collage and “tapestry” canvases was a 2015 artist residency in China. Being detached form everything familiar, but surrounded by so many new materials, such as printed papers and inks and new influences, Cheney started cutting, gluing, collaging and inking her way to a new process and liberating experience. This was a profoundly different approach in that all of the materials were right in front of the artist, she did not have to produce anything. It was a matter of unshackling herself, throwing caution to the wind and having some fun just composing her paintings. Thus, according to the artist, it is more of an “outside-in approach” to painting—all of the materials were ready and waiting, it did not require generating the palettes and imagery, but rather, responding to and creating compositions from what was in front of her.
This new-found fun and process continued when Cheney returned to the US and applied the same process to all of the scraps, rejected canvases and newly painted canvases done purely for the benefit of becoming source material. She felt unconstrained and free to take risks and make mistakes, change her mind, edit and even flip the canvas over and start again. Her “inner critic is quieter.” Take a look at both sides of Emanator, 2020 as proof of a total artist conversion.
The exhibition title, Slow Burn, is a reflection of Cheney’s thoughts and feelings about painting—it is slow and all-consuming. First, engaging the mind, as ideas, issues and aesthetics float around and meld, forming the nuggets for new paintings. Then, as a true student of Abstract Expressionism, it becomes corpuscular, then bodily, the ideas and emotions pulse through the body and express themselves through the artist’s arms and fingertips, guided by her literal and metaphorical vision.