Thursday, April 23, 2015

Walk-In Pantry by Summer Wheat

by Drew Martin
The Fridman Gallery is a smart little gallery in SoHo that has big ideas. I like this space because each of the four shows I have seen there in the past year was entirely different: artists, medium, lighting, floor plan and mood. I imagine it as a museum with each show, flowing into the other. The gallery is close to my work so I stopped by at lunchtime today to catch the current show before it closes on Saturday.

This solo exhibition, Walk-in Pantry, by the artist Summer Wheat, immerses the viewer in an installation of paintings and paint-rugs that reference the surroundings of Vermeer's The Milkmaid.

I first felt a little oppressed in front of Wheat's paintings because they are heavy with black charcoal mixed with the paints but then they open up to you. It is actually a really odd sensation; you first feel the presence of basic shapes, but then you see something more definite about them. They have an immediate impression like a Motherwell, but then you see objects in the forms and there is a kind of clarity you I did not understand this ten seconds ago but now I do. In many ways this sums up art.

Wheat's most powerful works are her paint-rugs. I love when I see an artist own a technique. In this case it's the way she pushes acrylics through a fine plastic mesh, and then decorates them.