Cook unwowed by Decordova Annual Exhibition of new New Englanders

In The Phoenix, Greg Cook writes that all the work in this year’s DeCordova Annual is “proficient, but nothing wows — or freaks you out. The exhibit can be grouped into variations on a theme: landscape as digital animation or a little garden; family memories as deadpan photos or cartoony paintings; technology in painting as surreal scenes or gestural abstractions….In Jamaica Plain artist Matt Brackett’s surreal oil painting, a woman stands in water under a pier at night waving her hand over glowing yellow waves, or a woman in a fur-collared coat scuttles across an icy marsh at sunset with her arm full of oranges. Brackett sketches out compositions, stages them with models, photographs them, pastes various photos together, and then paints the composites. It recalls the photos of Gregory Crewdson, which are alternately cheesy and seductively strange, like something from David Lynch or The X-Files. Brackett’s scenes head in this direction, but they can feel forced, like studio set-ups and still-life props rather than something plucked from dreams. Another variation of technologically backed painting is Bostonian Mark Schoening’s black-and-white abstractions that look like splatters of mud and straw. They’re built from alternating layers of painting and digital print-outs of manipulated images of architectural fragments, but this part-man part-machine hybrid doesn’t come to life.” Read more. If you disagree with Greg Cook’s assessment, make sure to comment below.
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The 2008 Decordova Annual Exhibition,” organized by Rachel Rosenfield Lafo, Nick Capasso, Dina Deitsch, and Kate Dempsey. The Decordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA. Through August 17. Artists include Mitchel K. Ahern, Matt Brackett, Leah Gauthier, The Institute for Infinitely Small Things, Niho Kozuru, Eva Lee, Yana Payusova, David Prifti, Kirsten Reynolds, Mark Schoening, Vanessa Tropeano, and Marguerite White. See images of the show here.

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2 thoughts on “Cook unwowed by Decordova Annual Exhibition of new New Englanders”

  1. I went once to the De Cordova and resolved never to go back. I absolutely do not understand their curatorial stance, which leans toward cutsy, kind of amateurish, and “fun” without really being fun. Their outdoor sculpture choices are just awful, jumbled about on a beautiful site that deserves better. I’d like to know what other people think.

    1. The strange thing about DeCordova is that even when they change their personnel the same stale flavor persists. In a way it is the most conservative art institution in Boston irrevocably tied to exhibiting well executed, but for the most part, tired, already tested art. Perhaps this has something to do with the gentrified neighbourhood in which the museum is situated in.

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