Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects presents Leaves, a survey of contemporary drawings and works on paper by Peter Acheson, Mequitta Ahuja, Chuck Bowdish, Katherine Bradford, Dawn Clements, Jacob El Hanani, Gregory Gillespie, June Leaf, Sangram Majumdar and Fulvio Testa. The ten artists range from seasoned draftsmen to artists at the beginning of their careers and come from across the globe. Each of them, however, has a remarkably individualized sensibility and may be considered a master in his/her own right.
Katherine Bradford’s works on paper are, as Ken Johnson puts it, “comical yet earnest.” Her glowing colors and vulnerable shapes often describe ocean liners and people at sea. The deliberate naiveté of her subjects evoke innocence without sentimentality – they have the quality of adult reveries and regressions. Bradford’s work is included in various public collections, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Portland Museum, among others. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011, and was a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant in 2012.
A close peer of Bradford’s, Peter Acheson is a pioneer of a similarly raw vocabulary. His scribbled drawings map a disconnected world. Acheson is in the tradition of artists such as Forest Bess and Gandy Brodie. His drawings encompass language–as-mark making with phrases entangled in tangles of line. Acheson was born in Washington, D.C and lives in Ghent, NY. His work is included in the Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection.
From large scale painted collages to tiny jewel-like watercolors, Chuck Bowdish’s work is figurative visual poetry, calling on both classical imagery (Grecian urns and nude torsos) and images of menace right out of the headlines. His draftsmanship seems effortless and precise and his impulse to castigate the world comes from a pure place. He is the kind of artist who makes you reconsider your assumptions. Bowdish is the subject of a documentary film by Peter Wareing entitled Chuck Bowdish: Painter and has been included in recent exhibitions in Atlanta, Williamsburg and Long Island City. Concurrently with Leaves, Bowdish’s work may be seen at the John Davis Gallery in Hudson, N.Y.
The estimable painter and sculptor June Leaf, was born in Chicago in 1929 and has lived in New York since the early 60's. Her drawings are directly related to her sculpture; they are diagrammatic and notational, having almost the quality of maps, and share an acknowledgement of humanity’s grace and foibles. Leaf’s works on paper call to mind the inventive sketches of da Vinci and Alexander Calder. Leaf had her first solo exhibition at Sam Bordelon Gallery in Chicago in 1948 and has since exhibited internationally. She is included in numerous museum collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York The Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
Jacob El Hanani was born in Morocco in 1947 and grew up in Israel. His work draws on the tradition of micrography in Judaism, a technique used in the decoration and transcription of holy texts. El Hanani’s incredibly intricate ink drawings are created through the careful repetition of tiny marks. These extraordinary works appear to be a pattern from a distance; they are mediations on time and infinity. El Hanani’s work is included in many notable public collections, including The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Jewish Museum, Musee national d’Arte Moderne, Centre George Pompidou, Paris, The National Gallery of Art, DC.
Fulvio Testa is one of Italy’s most distinguished artists and illustrators. Working in watercolor and ink with muted tones, Testa’s small scale, elegant landscapes have little demarcation between land and sky and seem influenced by Chinese scroll paintings. His work is represented in a number of public collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. In addition to his own prizewinning titles, he has illustrated books by authors such as Anthony Burgess and Gianni Rodari. He divides his time between Verona, Italy, and New York.
Sangram Majumdar was born in Calcutta, India and received his MFA from Indiana University. Majumdar works from elaborate backdrops and dioramas constructed in his studio, layering decorative and painterly elements that disappear and reappear in the working process. Majumdar’s final compositions house a multitude of hidden possibilities. This group of drawings represents all the monochrome work related to a single painting, enabling us to visualize this world of potentiality. Majumdar has taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art since 2003. Concurrently with Leaves, Majumdar’s oil paintingsa will be exhibited at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Dawn Clements was born in Massachusetts in 1958. She works with Sumi ink and ballpoint pen on paper, ranging in size from small to monumental. Through an active, almost performative working process, the paper becomes distressed with folds, wrinkles, and seams. Clements subjects are the observed everyday spaces of her apartment and studio, and film stills, which she scales up to life-size proportion. Clements’ work was included in the Whitney Biennial in 2010, and she is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Saatchi Collection, London.
Mequitta Ahuja defines her artistic practice as Automythography (a variant on Audrey Lorde’s phrase.) In her large-scale paintings on paper she places images of herself in the midst of tumbling worlds of tightly woven pattern and color, with an overall pictorial density that speaks to the layered patterns of Persian miniatures. Last spring she had an artist residency in Siena, Italy. Included in Leaves are examples of pastels inspired by her residency, in which Ahuja incorporates herself into the Romulus and Remus mythology of Siena (according to tradition Remus’ son Senio was the founder of Siena.) Her work is included in recent and upcoming exhibitions at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, The Minneapolis Institute of Art and The Saatchi Gallery.
The late Massachusetts born visionary painter Gregory Gillespie (1936-2000) defies categorization. He championed a fiercely obsessive realism in the Sixties when Pop and abstraction held sway, yet his vocabulary is so psychologically potent and mystically laced that it pushes past the realms of the real. His oeuvre comprises haunting self-portraits, surreal landscapes, symbolic geometric abstractions, and singular monumental object/paintings. His process is equally expansive, combining meticulous oil painting with photomontage, collage and assemblage. In his late work, which is included in this exhibition, he also inlays photocopied images into the painting surface. Gillespie drew inspiration across the history of European painting (Balthus, Bruegel, Bosch, Crivelli to name a few), as well as from classical mythology, Buddhism, Indian sculpture, and Tibetan and Mayan art. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden presented a retrospective of Gillespie’s work when he was forty years old, garnering him national prominence. Gillespie’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others.
Leaves takes place in two spaces; at SHFAP’s main gallery at 208 Forsyth St, and around the corner at PROJECTOR, our pop-up space at 237 Eldridge.