Andrew Woolbright: Shrinebeasts

Andrew Woolbright Shrinebeast, 2017-2019; oil on cut canvas, plaster frame, epoxy; 80 x 88 inches

Contributed by Zach Seeger / In Andrew Woolbright’s current show “Expresso Your Depresso,” at ADA Gallery in Richmond, Virginia, the artist creates a series of mixed media pieces that fill the space with exuberant painting and billowing melancholy. Reminiscent of the imagined ghost ships of Fellini’s Juliette of the Spirits, Woolbright’s paintings are amalgams of the untethered, ribbony valentines that seem to couch their pathetic courage in the visceral and not-yet-troped.

Andrew Woolbright, Shrinebeast in the Valley of Ex’s, 2017-2019; oil and acrylic on cut canvas, paint skins, found object; 96 x 96 inches

Conduit For Sale
“Take this rotten old tree and make it bear fruit.”
Cheers erupted throughout the thin settlement;
An Italian male was heard to say:
“Between here and there
Is better than either here or there!”
I’m tryin’.
I’m tryin’.
I’m tryin’.
I’m tryin’.
I’m tryin’.
I’m tryin’.
I’m tryin’ and I’ll try.
I’m tryin’ and I’ll try.
I’m tryin’ and I’ll try.

 Pavement

Installation view.

The Shrinebeast, both a symbol and protagonist, represents the painter character as hero, lumbering patriot, and romantic sap. The paintings are literally pieced together, trying to find their place in the world while declaring their pride in being worthy art objects. Woolbright mixes a palette of cloying, sour heat consisting of warm oranges, alizarin crimson, and white mixed with the occasional  cerulean teal puddle of cool. The wind-blown brushstrokes are contained within a patriotic bunting: imagine Fragonard and Childe Hassam handing out feathery buttons at the county fair.

The artist’s achievement is that he manages to create large-scale paintings that are boastfully romantic and humiliatingly sensitive. Their unabashed painterliness and gushing ornamentation are their vulnerability: the beasts can barely carry their own weight; they are that in love with the stuff they carry; they simply can’t let go. Such sentimental bad-idea painting is lovingly embraced by artists such as Judith Linhares and Sean Landers, but Woolbright has traded the other artists’ orderly rendering of pictorial space for the realness of a messier object.

Andrew Woolbright, New Theories in Conservation, 2018, oil on cut canvas with custom frame, 76 x 83 inches

“Andrew Woolbright: Espresso Your Depresso”, ADA Gallery, 228 West Broad St, Richmond, VA. Through July 18.

About the author: Zach Seeger is a painter, sculptor, and writer who works in Brooklyn, New York. He has recently exhibited at Arts + Leisure and Freight + Volume (New York) and Baby Blue Gallery (Chicago). A series of paperworks are currently part of the exhibition “Malled and Walled: American Style,” curated by Fred Fleisher in Zurich. 

Related posts:
Roadtrip: The Clark, MASS MoCA, Bascom Lodge in Western Massachusetts
Objecthood: Joan Miró’s painted sculptures
Zach Seeger’s surveillance

Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

Tags: , , ,

1 thought on “Andrew Woolbright: Shrinebeasts”

  1. Terrific little piece, smart as it is cool, with fitting lyrics from Pavement no less. Kudos to both Woolbright and Seeger, and to Two Coats for a fine editorial eye.

Leave a Reply to Ernie, NYC Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *