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Kelly Carmody | Emily Persson | May 11 - June 9

The Grenning Gallery is pleased to unveil CARMODY | PERSSON a two person show celebrating the textural palette knife paintings from Australia’s own Emily Persson; juxtaposed with Kelly Carmody’s new series of glowing bayscapes inspired by Shelter Island’s quiet season. This exhibit will hang from Saturday, May 11th through Sunday, June 9th, 2024. Please join us for an Opening Reception on Saturday, May 11th from 5:30pm-7:00pm, both artists will be present.

In October of 2023, Kelly Carmody (b. 1977, Massachusetts) jumped on a rare opportunity to spend a month on Shelter Island, entirely solo. The busy season had just ended, and all the summer visitors had departed. Carmody found herself on the pristine beaches alone, with only the still waters and crisp autumn air to accompany her. It’s a breathtaking revelation, when one is finally able to absorb all the beauty this small island between the North and South Forks has to offer. Silence; save for the wind, the birds, squirrels, and deer crunching on newly fallen leaves in the forest. This time of pensive reflection and solitude inspired Carmody to paint her surroundings, with as much purity as she could possibly convey onto the canvas. Carmody even concocted her own traditional gesso, made of marble dust, pigment, and rabbit glue for this new series. Unlike a pre-primed canvas, this new surface produced an absorbent ground, which generated a smoothing effect as the paint was layered on to the canvas. The result is a rich colorist yet, almost transparent quality to the painting.

The composition for Pink Reflection began with a plein-air pastel drawing, with Carmody sitting on the bridge at Dering Harbor. In the pastel, we see a colorful sky with clouds scattering just after sunset. The horizon is intersected by masts from an assortment of sailboats. In the foreground, water runs out from beneath the bridge she sits upon, flowing into the harbor, the current accentuated by a simplistic design of little V shapes. When Carmody translated this plein air sketch onto a canvas, she made decisions to omit a lot of what she saw on site. She emphasized the stillness of the harbor, where the pink sky casts a bright reflection onto the water’s surface. The sailboats intersecting the horizon were entirely omitted, heightening a sensation of peaceful contemplation. The movement in the foreground is only annotated by her echoing the pattern of arrows pointing us toward the direction of the water’s current. What started as a plein air pastel, sparked by an interesting light effect, resulted in a studio painting that emanates light itself.

Throughout the rest of the series, light is the prominent subject. The changing of seasons meant that Carmody was able to experience a different atmosphere, and subsequently light effect, each day. The milky blue of Shelter Island Evening and the warm orange of Orange Clouds are the same location at different times of day. Carmody’s paintings demonstrate how, in a matter of minutes, light can completely transform a scene.

In Spring Still Life, Carmody emphasizes the light being the painting by showing no shadows. By getting rid of the shadows that should be there, Carmody individualizes each object, and celebrates the simplicity of color and shapes in a flat plane.

Emily Persson (b.1991, Australia) returns to the Grenning Gallery with an enchanting body of textural scenes from her home in Melbourne, Australia. Persson joined the Grenning Gallery roster in 2019, with a few paintings in our “Thick and Wet” exhibition from 2019. We sold out of her work, and she has spent the last four years painting for solo shows at galleries in Australia; Wentworth Galleries of Sydney, The Moree Gallery of New South Wales, and Manyung Gallery of Victoria. We are thrilled to finally have new work from Persson, who is a multi-generational painter with roots in Brisbane, and we are beyond excited that Persson will be travelling all the way from Australia to join us for the opening reception!

Persson works primarily with a palette knife, in fact, the same knife her grandmother painted with. This tool aids in creating the long depth of field we see in her landscapes—with objects in the foreground physically popping off the canvas and features in background melting away with one swipe. Unlike Carmody’s exploration of distilling canvases into light effects, Persson magnifies the various textures that the world offers.

In Tree Line Sublime, the largest work by Persson we’ve shown in the gallery so far, the painted bark not only visually represents the look of the bark, but physically represents its rough and varied texture as well.

Persson’s clouds are ones you want to reach out and touch due to her work with the palette knife, smoothing the white paint like icing on a cake. “It Was Nice” is a glorious frenzy of clouds—the sky takes over three quarters of the composition. Abundant white paint slathered onto the canvas meet shadows of grey and blue in a spectacular maze of billowing vapors. Beneath is a patchwork quilt of green paints demonstrating the lush, verdant hills of her homeland.

Although both Carmody and Persson paint the natural world surrounding them, their different inspirations, methods of painting, and styles highlight their individuality as artists—resulting in a dynamic exhibition we are delighted to present to the public on May 11th!

Artist Works | 36 RESULTS