The Opening Reception will be Saturday May 16th, from 6 to 7:30pm, and the show will hang until June 14th. Ackrill's "Shark", Minoff's waves, Morfis' tools team up with Watwood's figurative paintings to create an exhibition that is diverse, yet focused. Singleness of purpose unifies these classical realists.
Classically trained painter Anthony Ackrill's "Shark" begs us to look at the 26 year old Damien Hirst 'artwork' called The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. The latter consist ofa tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde in a vitrine. Hirst's shark was originally commissioned in 1991 by Charles Saatchi. He then sold it in 2004, to Steven A. Cohen for an undisclosed amount, widely reported to have been $8 million.
Putting Mr. Hirst's fabulous financial success aside, we look to the artistic merits (or lack there of) in this cornerstone piece in Hirst's oeuvre. When we look at art here at the Grenning Gallery, we look for satisfaction on three levels: the body (represented in high level of craft), the mind (the concept of the artwork), and the soul (the emotive effect) to be engaged. Besides the novelty of Hirst's shark, we are hard pressed to find any satisfying element in this, his most famous work of art. We find a fleeting interest for the mind, but upon reflection, this format - an exotic animal in a vitrine - isn't too far off the taste of a country gentleman in 19th Century England. So in fact, we find Hirst's shark concept rather pedestrian and old fashioned, belying his middle class English background. The fact that it required no acquired skill for him to create it, and the emotive effect is one of passing curiosity, it hardly ranks in our system. We would need to look deeply into the wonderful and bizarre economics of the contemporary art market for the answer to the age old question - "so why is THIS worth THAT?!"
Rather than get lost in that rabbit hole, lets simply turn our heads towards a piece of art that has body, mind AND soul. "Shark" by Anthony Ackrill (b. 1958), is ironic, as he painted an amazingly life-like, 10-foot shark on a whitewashed door, symbolizing Hirst's clear tank of water. This classically trained painter is precise and particular in his subject matter. When his razor sharp senses are piqued, his well-trained hand goes to work, and the outcome is predictably spectacular. So, that's a check plus for 'body". He gets a check plus for 'mind" because he's poking fun at Hirst and the ridiculousness of contemporary art valuations. And then there's the frightful image of a shark hanging over your couch, which has an obvious emotive effect - that's a check for "soul". Please do come to see this work, which will be hanging from May 11th through May 26th. It was sold to the first person that saw it, and it delivered before the show officially ends on June 14th.
John Morfis (b. 1976), originally from Long Island but currently living in Connecticut exhibits a fascinating series of single object tromp l'oeil paintings. The spartan composition, repeated in 15 new paintings, hanging together, is chic. Each painting has as story, and stands up to close inspection. Morfis's deft hand and clear eye has rendered these black and grey beauties into the three dimensions. In addition to simple hand tools, he included five paintings of horse tack, in a nod to our Wellington, Florida fans. "Carol's Stirrups" is one of many amazing works.
Patty Watwood (b. 1971) returns to the Grenning Gallery after many years of showing in New York City and around the world (click here for an updated bio). In a recent studio visit, we were intrigued by her series of paintings depicting Venus in urban settings. "Faith in the Wilderness" is about Watwood's attempt to paint the specific beauty that she sees in an urban setting. This fresh take on a portrait head, with paint brushes in her hair represents herself, the classicist, painting in the city, which has a frame decorated with graffiti and the urban landscape. "Flora Femen" is another classical image, with hints of Botticelli's influence in her stylized hair with ribbons fluttering in this arresting, feminist painting.
Edward Minoff's (b. 1972) focus on nature, taken to the nth degree in his compelling series of wave paintings completes this show. We look forward to many new works by this great painter later in the year, but simply couldn't resist pairing Minoff's wave paintings with "Shark" by Ackrill.