October 16, 2011

Good painting: Tatiana Berg and Sarah Faux

Berg stretches canvas around handmade wooden frames and then paints the surfaces with spray paint, oil and enamel.

Comparing their process to Bill Murray's improv, Sarah Faux and Tatiana Berg think sometimes you die onstage, but eventually you stop fearing death. After several rounds of email regrets and missed appointments (again, sorry Tatiana!), I finally made it out to Bed-Stuy the other day, painter Laurie Fendrich by my side, to check out "Dank," Faux and Berg's exhibition at Tompkins Projects. The two recent grads (Faux received a BA/BFA from Brown/RISD in 2009 and Berg a BFA from RISD the same year), who call themselves chronic over-producers, embrace a haphazard, accidental approach to painting in which "stripes of spray-paint and globs of oil chase a perverse formalism to the edge of every canvas."

It's a fine show, with intuitive, thought-provoking work. On our way back to Manhattan, Fendrich and I, both seasoned art professors, had a stimulating conversation about the difficulty of critiquing student work that explores, sometimes unwittingly, the fashion for rule-breaking, anti-Bauhaus formalism. In the age of new casualism, a case can be made that everything is a "good painting," especially the ones that might have been considered, well, sophomoric ten or fifteen years ago.

 Two of Sarah Faux's paintings. The one on the left features a shiny silver image of a nose. Oil and spray paint on canvas, each 42 x 38 inches.

One of Tatiana Berg's "tent" paintings. Wood frame, staples, yard and string with wheels.

 Laurie Fendrich and Tatiana Berg discussing the wheels on the bottoms of Berg's pieces. The wheels, which convey a humorous pragmatism, also lend the three-dimensional paintings a wry sense of transience.

 Faux employs tiny collage elements and globs of paint to add facial details to abstract shapes.

Sarah Faux

"Berg/ Faux: Dank," Tomkins Projects, Brooklyn, NY. Through October 22, 2011.

Related posts:
Out with the old, or, Hello 2011 (a few upcoming exhibitions)
Gahl and Berg @ Nudashank in Baltimore

3 comments:

crazy hideous. love it. especially the wheels. lets go back and put wheels on all the Donald Judds. Use a rembrandt as an ironing board.

I'm interested to know Fendrich's reaction to the work, because her own is so extremely conservative. There is a lot of slap-dash abstraction being created these days, but Faux's images above look quite seductive, something from a painter in command of their process.

The bottom image of Sarah Faux I like for some reason. Even better would be if the lite-orange shadow at the left side of the photo was really part of the painted image.

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