March 11, 2008

Joy Garnett stops the passing glance

This is the last week to see Joy Garnett's show at Winkleman. In Time Out New York, Jennifer Coates reports that the four large paintings in the exhibition look like they could be representing imaginary places, but they are in fact based on news photos from the Internet. "By charging her source material with Munch-like painterly intensity, the artist transforms impersonal images that ordinarily warrant a passing glance into scenes that rivet the eye. The results throw into sharp relief the vast differences in 'speed' between painting and photography: Between the time it takes to snap a picture and create a canvas, and the degree of contemplation required for looking at art as opposed to perusing pictures on the Web. In Noon, a rainbow of colors explodes from some unnamed site, and indeed whatever events led to the violence in this image could have taken place almost anywhere at any time. Similarly, Night uses a simple palette of red, black and white to depict the smoldering aftermath of 9/11, but despite Garnett’s evocation of glowing flames and structural remnants, one wouldn’t necessarily know that this is the World Trade Center. In her hands, a pervasively familiar yet traumatic event becomes strangely anonymous. Reducing complex events to fleeting impressions can run the risk of trivializing them. Yet by memorializing images like these, which have been the focus of global media attention, Garnett makes them symbolic—and gives them a history outside of current events."

"Joy Garnett: New Paintings," Winkleman Gallery, New York, NY. Through March 15.

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