Contributed by Sharon Butler / In Nora Griffin’s lively new paintings at Fierman, aesthetic tropes from eighties graphics – the stepped rule, the squiggle, artful spatter, bold pastel color – meet calculated painterly excess. She expands on the composition-cover patterns of previous work with great brio, resuscitating action painting and combining it with stream-of-consciousness content. We met at the gallery last week, where she told me the starting point is often color gleaned from a memory, an emotion, or a physical experience.
The show’s title is “Charteuse,” a color that Griffin remembers from the stairway of her parents’ loft building on East 4th Street, where she grew up in the eighties. “It was dirty and glowed florescent, very physical, like the New York City I remember.” She believes a painting can abstractly embody the memory of a specific place. “I think of painting as a container, a world where images, colors, feelings, and form can coalesce into an object.”
Her aesthetic, like that of Rebecca Morris, is deliberate bad-craft kitsch, combined with the odd bombardment of imagery that simulates the visual flow that we experience in everyday life. What do the paintings mean? She doesn’t seem concerned, as long as we stay in the perceptual moment and simply look. Thick passages of modeling paste scraped on by hand punctuate thin spatter and recreated images from art history, converted to black and white and painted on to mimic collage. Muybridge’s motion study of camels graces one, Édouard Manet’s variation on Chardin’s Bubble Blower another. This past summer Griffin was a resident at the Elizabeth Murray Artist Residency, on the late painter’s 77-acre farm in upstate NY. Murray’s brand of energy and verve inhabits Griffin too, and enlivens these three large-scale paintings. They appear to mark the beginning of a new direction; I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.
“Nora Griffin: Chartreuse,” Fierman Gallery, New York, NY. Through November 25, 2018.