Shane Campbell Gallery group show | Art review
Dengler, Gronemeyer, Huneke and Olson experiment with painting.
Ellen Gronemeyer’s Banana Split (2011) and other grotesque portraits make one wonder how much material a painting can hold before it collapses under its own weight. The Berlin-based artist spackles streaks and smudges of oil paint onto pieces of paperboard until her images of multicolored, asymmetrical faces develop crags. The small-scale pieces evoke religious icons, but they come off as fascinating experiments with texture and form rather than pictures of people.
All four of this exhibition’s artists remind viewers that painting is a 3-D medium. Only Helena Huneke’s works, which are hardly bigger than index cards, fail to do so in a compelling way. Executed in watercolor, gouache and ink, their snippets of text are obscured by layers of paint. Figurative elements, such as a nude and the apparent subject of Young Fashion Manager, London (2012), are almost impossible to separate from the morass of paint engulfing them.
Verena Dengler’s “paintings” would be indistinguishable from myriad young artists’ minimalist compositions—if they weren’t embroideries possessing a distinctive warmth. Though the topography of Alex Olson’s oil paintings is as rough as in Gronemeyer’s works, her innovative process tends to be subtractive. In one abstraction, scraped rectangles expose the paper beneath a palimpsest of red, orange and black. Like Shane Campbell Gallery itself, these artists cram a remarkable amount of drama into a modest space.