The Sixties are back baby and its peppy Pop sensibility reads fresh once more with the recent exhibition of Marcia Hafif: The Italian Paintings 1961-1969. As the season segues into spring onwards to summer, it seems appropriate that the bright color hues laid a pleasant assault on one’s line of vision. Hafif painted these works while she was in Rome and created what she calls “Pop Minimal”. Yes, the pop is certainly there as the stark form emerged from its graphic presence to transcend past the minimal.
Her practice of sitting in front of a canvas then paint what first comes to mind may be influenced by her life in Rome: the art community burgeoning at that time, what she saw that resonated deep in her psyche or what epiphany may have given her a visual cue of what to paint. You can tell where X marks the spot, a hill emerging, and two orbs that could be eyes or breasts. All these forms are familiar but in her color relation and choices that it registers as the acrid washed negative of the picture. Therein lies the genome of what makes her work from that decade still slick and appealing.
Hafif imbued the irreverent spirit of the Sixties with her flower power palette but her artistic credo is apparent in the bold shapes that occupy the quadrant of her pieces. Be it a huge painting or the page size work on paper, the artist tempered the brush strokes and application with masterful aplomb. Pop minimal cannot work if you don make the simplest of shapes flawlessly. This is where she exudes the maturity of a serious artist. The forms are crisp and they jump out from the colored background.
What does it signify with this series created in the Sixties that still resonate today? Creating bold and colorful is just the beginning. Substance and method bookended the entire oeuvre as Hafif clearly proved in this exhibition. It is a job well done effortlessly but nowhere near simplistic.
MARCIA HAFIF: THE ITALIAN PAINTINGS, 1961–1969
Exhibition Dates: April 21–June 25, 2016
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday (10 am – 6 pm)
Fergus McCaffrey. 514 West 26th Street. NYC, NY 10001
Art Review by Oscar A. Laluyan
Installation photos provided by Fergus McCaffrey