A Panoply of Somethings – Noah Becker’s Something at Berry Campbell Gallery

Artist and curator Noah Becker
Artist and curator of the show Noah Becker in front of  his painting “Something”
Artist Michael Anderson
Artist Michael Anderson next to his collage

Douglas Crimp speculates in his landmark essay “The End of Painting” on the potentiality of painting to maintain its status as a relevant medium in the contemporary era. A searching look at painting’s relative importance during the rise of new media, Crimp comes to the conclusion that “painting has an essence and that essence is illusion, the capacity to materialize images rendered up by the boundless human imagination… painting is, above all, human.”[1]

The overwhelming majority of artworks on view in Something are paintings. The works evoke illusory and imaginative revisions of reality, manifesting curator Noah Becker’s vision to highlight playful ambiguity in contemporary art trends. Becker explains about the title, Something: “It’s a bit Warholian to use a word like that as a starting point…for an epic group show. Words are pop art due to words being universal symbols. The idea of things being universal and understood instantly…how does one express it in their art?”

Wandering the rooms of large scale paintings and mixed media works, alternately politely framed or hung from alligator clips in fits of punk rock rebellion, new surprises await around every turn. The twenty-six works adapt Pop reproduction, bright abstraction, and text-based ruminations on process art from a personal perspective. Three particularly imaginative works stand out: Something to Talk About by Irena Jurek, The Perfect Storm (I Can’t Go Outside) by Jason McLean, and Organic Illusions by Marcus Jansen, all dated 2015. These pieces contain varying levels of figuration, juxtaposing text, decadent materiality and lush tonal variation.

Something to Talk About by Irena Jurek (2015); courtesy Berry Campbell gallery.
Something to Talk About by Irena Jurek (2015); courtesy Berry Campbell gallery. Acrylic, glitter and mixed media on canvas, 40 x 60 in. (101.6 x 152.4 cm)
The Perfect Storm (I Can’t Go Outside) by Jason McLean (2015); courtesy Berry Campbell gallery
The Perfect Storm (I Can’t Go Outside) by Jason McLean (2015); courtesy Berry Campbell gallery.

Something to Talk About by Irena Jurek captures movement and motion with gusto. Acrylic and glitter mingle among a group of anthropomorphic felines, a saucy and sassy romp through a fantastic mirage. The flatness of the cartoon imagery is augmented by the whimsical blend of mixed media. It’s impossible to capture the hypnotizing materialism of this piece in a flat image; only by visiting can you witness the broad display of materials in this work. McLean’s The Perfect Storm cleverly externalizes the artist’s process in a bright conceptual melee. Mixed media on archival paper, the colorful blend of internal and external subject matter makes for a cerebral and visually stimulating work. Jansen’s Organic Illusions combine impressionist landscape imagery with sinister figuration: presence and absence intertwine, creating a disorienting reflection within a peaceful, harmonious color spectrum.

Marcus Jansen, Organic Illusions, 2015, oil on canvas, 84 x 72 in. (213.4 x 182.9 cm)
Marcus Jansen, Organic Illusions, 2015, oil on canvas, 84 x 72 in. (213.4 x 182.9 cm)

Becker’s exhibit plunges deeply and unapologetically into the multitudinous mix of contemporary art with a heavy focus on painting, divulging the playful but simultaneously unafraid to capture whimsy alongside the grotesque and self-reflexive vibes present in the art of today. Throughout it all, painting remains a key indicator: whether embracing pop or abstraction, the human element of tinkering, adjusting and layering is inescapable. In the carefully blended cocktail of artistic revelry, captivating subject matter shares air time with colorful patterns and textured layers. Text and color were prime considerations for Becker in conceiving this exhibit, stating “It was through color that I found direction. Bright color is good in New York–a vacation for the soul.” This is one vacation you’ll be in no hurry to leave from.

Something is curated by Noah Becker of Whitehot Magazine and comprised of 27 works by 20 artists. The show is on view at Berry Campbell through February 6, 2016.

Writing by Audra Lambert

Photographs by Audra Lambert and the gallery

Video by Odelle Abney

] Crimp, Douglas. “The End of Painting.” October, vol. xiv, Spring 1981, pp. 69-86 (75).

Nir Hod, Fame, 2015, Oil and acid on oxidised chromed canvas, 20 1/2 x 16 in. (52.1 x 40.6 cm)
Nir Hod, Fame, 2015, Oil and acid on oxidised chromed canvas, 20 1/2 x 16 in. (52.1 x 40.6 cm)
Marc Dennis, Out of this World, 2015, Oil on linen, 36 x 40 in. (91.4 x 101.6 cm)
Marc Dennis, Out of this World, 2015, Oil on linen, 36 x 40 in. (91.4 x 101.6 cm)
Holly Knox Rhame, Heads, 2015, watercolor on paper, 4 1/2 x 3 in. (11.4 x 7.6 cm)
Holly Knox Rhame, Heads, 2015, watercolor on paper, 4 1/2 x 3 in. (11.4 x 7.6 cm)
Aaron Michael Skolnick, Choking on the Ashes of a Memory, 2015 Watercolor on paper, 11 x 8 1/2 in. (27.9 x 21.6 cm) (24 works total) Aaron Michael Skolnick, Choking on the Ashes of a Memory, 2015, watercolor on paper, 11 x 8 1/2 in. (27.9 x 21.6 cm)
Aaron Michael Skolnick, Choking on the Ashes of a Memory, 2015, watercolor on paper, 11 x 8 1/2 in. (27.9 x 21.6 cm)
Erin Smith, Sucker Punch Cap'n Crunch, 2015, oil on linen, 40 x 40 in. (101.6 x 101.6 cm)
Erin Smith, Sucker Punch Cap’n Crunch, 2015, oil on linen, 40 x 40 in. (101.6 x 101.6 cm)
Audra Lambert

Audra Lambert

Audra Lambert is an arts writer and independent curator who has worked on interdisciplinary projects involving painting, performance, new media and installation art. Her recent curatorial projects have included The Subtle Image group figurative exhibit at Dejavu Gallery, Reflecting Our City for the White Roof Project at the Center for Social Innovation, and participating in the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts’ A Wicked Problem. In addition to these projects she has served as Project Coordinator for More Art, a socially engaged nonprofit based in NYC, and she has contributed to Art Nerd, Examiner, AXS, and WhiteHot Magazine, among others. With an anticipated 2016 M.A. in Art History, Modern & Contemporary Art from CCNY, her primary focus is on installation art and contemporary art in the public sphere.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial