Verge Press Release

Verge Press Release


Opening Reception: Saturday June 7 from 4-6 pm
On view from June 7 thru July 6, 2014


New York, May 21, 2014

Munch Gallery is pleased to present 'Verge' - a group exhibition curated by Mie Olise.
To be ”on the verge” is to approach something closely, without quite giving over. It’s an ambigous state. Such states are difficult to navigate, they don’t give us easy answers. This is particularly true in painting. 'Verge' at Munch Gallery brings together a group of painters who span generations and contintents. The connecting thread woven here is a marked interest in paint handling that marks the boundary between representation and abstraction. New York painting has a long history. In its current form, long held distinctions between abstraction and figuration are crumbling and reinventing themselves. Painters are forming mini-subcultures. The new work coming out of this tradition is refined, playful, unrestrained. For this show, Mie Olise has brought together a group of artists whose work celebrates honesty in the informal. ”Verge” is comprised of Amy Feldman, Katherine Bradford, Emily Noelle Lambert, Anna Kunz, Florian Meisenberg, Mie Olise and Jason Stopa.

AMY FELDMAN’s works are typically rendered in light and dark variations of gray. Her abastract paintings of soft, dripping shapes bear a cartoonish quality that complicates figure and ground. Feldman’s work is serious and witty all at once. 


KATHERINE BRADFORD's recent paintings of maritime life – ships, divers and the vast ocean - come together in a poetic, metaphorical narrative. Her color is romantic as she renders waves or the night sky. Bradford’s work reclaims abstract tropes – the gesture, the drip – and folds them into her own figurative idiom.    


EMILY NOELLE LAMBERT’s art lies in extrodinary balance between wild, scrap sculptures and colorful, vibrant paintings. The occasoinal figure or landscape in her work act as another motif in a bold, sprawling personal narrative. Whatever the surface, her pieces are worked, layered and disparate.    


ANNA KUNZ is an artist based out of Chicago. Her geometic paintings, sculptures, installations often employ dyed fabrics that function like nets. These visual screens force the viewer to consider conditions of materiality and color as they capture and manipulate light.    


JASON STOPA uses iconic imagery like basketball nets, diamonds, watermelons, and even the Rastafarian flag as abstract platforms for the possibilities of paint. His surfaces alternate between thinly brushed oil paint, to dripping enamel to flickering fields of glitter. Many of his works explore deep blacks or creamy pastels.    


FLORIAN MEISENBERG works in Dusseldorf and New York. Meisenberg’s quasi-abstract works use a paired down color of earthy hues and greys while exploring the textural qualities of oil paint. There are elements of theatricality as Meisenberg daubs, drips, smears and stains surfaces into amorphous shapes. At times, simplistic figures appear, window-like openings create views, and squiggles anchor otherwise idiosyncratic paintings.    


MIE OLISE’s works have developed into a particular blend of architecture, art and psychology. Recurring motifs of private and public spaces abound - abandoned places and desolate structures. For source material, the artist travels to places in different states of disrepair, like a Russian abandoned ghost town by the Arctic Circle. Such sites embody a state of mind that carries over into the raucous, expressive handling that makes up her paintings.


For the artists in ”Verge”, there are many antecedents both abstract and representational. Bridging the two is difficult. Ambiguity is not an end in its own right, but rather a gate to expand our awareness of a given subject. The exciting aspect of this painting is that it naviagates in-betweenness, as such it has the unique capacity to speak about doubles. Yves Alain Bois argued in Painting As Model to move away from the literal. Therein, he points to French philosopher Hubert Damisch. Damisch wanted to get rid of the notion that texts are to be found in images. At the time there was the popular theory that behind every image is an illustration or caption to explain or justify its existence. In the place of ”texts” Bois sought a painting that operated beyond language and closer to the realm of perception, symbol and technique.
Mid 20th century abstraction functioned as a wall or surface that was impentrable, eschweing the pictorial in favor of flatness. This was the now well-known terrain of Greenberg. Formalist abstraction eventually culminated in its logical conclusion in Michael Fried’s objecthood and the minimalist impulse of the 60s and 70s. To simplify, abstractions leads us into areas of visual perception that we can’t name.


At the same time, late 20th century representational painting remained the arena of narrative. It’s seeing a part of the world at a distance and compartimentalzing. Using accesible vernacular, such work held on to concepts, history and mass culture. This was evidenced in the work of Andy Warhol’s pop icons and consumer goods, Richter’s photorealism of political catastrophe in the 70s, and Luc Tuyman’s horrific source material. Such work takes a lens onto the world and crops out a window. Whatever the image, it has its root in certain ”givens.” It takes that which we already know and refigures it.


Somewhere in the 80s, painters like Katherine Bradford, Joyce Pensato and Chris Martin broke with dichotomies. They didn’t dispense with the surface, it’s unavoidable afterall. Nor did they remove the bird’s eye view of narrative. Instead they joined them. In doing so, they created a third space where images are both a wall/surface and a window in. This is the starting point for 'Verge.'


Mie Olise works as a painter, sculptor and film/soundmaker. She holds a MFA (distinction),from Central St. Martin's Shool of Art, London, UK, and a MA in Architecture, Aarhus School of Architecture, DK/The Bartlett, UCL, London, UK. Olise was awarded residencies at Skowhegan and The ISCP in New York. Solo shows include Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Centre, Honor Fraser Gallery, LA; SNYK, Skive New Museum of Art, DK, Barbara Davis Gallery, Houston, TX and Duve Berlin.