Contributed by Zach Seeger / The novel coronavirus has prompted a slowdown in global commerce. While temporary, it comes at a time of overarching uncertainty in the global art market, with political instability, climate change, and non-Amazon retail suffering. How will artists respond to a shifting world that requires adaptation, especially given that Instagram and the art market demand a consistent brand? As the art fairs roll trepidatiously into town, Paige Beeber’s provocative exhibition “Severed Mends,” at Arts + Leisure Gallery, hints at a transient future.
The show consists of a series of small collage paintings and works on paper, plus one large piece. Together the smaller pieces read as a set of swatches that unite to become a whole. They provide the show’s buzz and dynamism, emitting exuberant energy while demonstrating process.
The larger piece, Where Did the Flowers Go?, which anchors the south wall of the gallery, is the show’s most conventional component. It’s a fully realized and quite beautiful work. If it lacks the vitality of the smaller pieces, it also signals and acknowledges the artist’s responsibility to scale – that is, her obligation to do what she’s supposed to do with paintings on a wall in a gallery. At the same time, it defers to the smaller pieces’ more kinetic bearing.
Beeber’s work is gridded (pencil lines included) on dual sides of the gallery in a manner that appears contrived to sell them. In full context, however, the arrangement points to the possibility of a venue that less cynically – and more optimistically – celebrates the process of making art. Art needs physical space to thrive, this show seems to say, noting the requirement as well as the increasingly difficult challenge of meeting it. For both the work and the message, “Severed Mends” is eminently worth a trip uptown.
“Paige Beeber, Severed Mends,” Arts + Leisure Gallery, 1571 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY. Through March 15, 2020.
About the author: Zach Seeger is a painter, sculptor, and writer who works in Brooklyn, New York. He has exhibited at Arts + Leisure and Freight + Volume (New York), Baby Blue Gallery (Chicago), and Casa Broncos (Zurich).