Chicago-born artist Elizabeth Murray pulled out all the stops for
this, her first major exhibition at her new gallery, which she
joined just last year after a long association with Paula Cooper.
The 12 enormous shaped paintings in this show, made with
bold colors and thick, cartoonish lines, are like theatrical
characters, each with its own quirky personality. Most of these
abstract images are derived from mundane household objects,
such as buttons, pillows or coffee cups. Formerly Fleet is an
image derived from a pair of orange shoes. It relates to a large
sculpture in the form of a shoe that Murray recently created for
the University of California at San Diego. In the painting, the
arrangement of the shoes and the shape of the canvas
suggest a gigantic human skull.
Murray's combination of cartoonish images and splintered
planes seems to draw on the Cubism of Juan Gris as well as
the vigor of Philip Guston's late works.. Her paintings manage
to convey a feeling of warmth and intimacy, in spite of their
grandiose scale. Moonbeam is an elegantly shaped canvas
with what looks like an image of giant strands of yellow beads
strewn on a white satin pillow. According to the artist, the
painting depicts a moonlit bed, with the bedposts collapsed and
resting on pillows. The oval Rescue may be an image of an
imaginative alien being, but one that is strangely unintimidating.
My favorite painting in the show, Could Be, resembles a
collapsed table with a red tablecloth fluttering in the wind.
However, as the title suggests, it could be anything.