Emily Pettigrew and Aubrey Levinthal, whose work I have beforehand reviewed, have a selection of factors in widespread: equally of them paint youthful females by itself and use color and atmospheric light to infuse their depictions with a individual psychological weather. An additional vital detail they share is their rejection of overt narrative in favor of interiority and opacity. But, as a lot as they overlap, the variances among them operate further and are far more telling. Presently, their paintings are paired in the exhibition Odd Hours: Aubrey Levinthal and Emily Pettigrew at Monya Rowe Gallery (June 24–July 22, 2021).
Pettigrew, who is often encouraged by background, fiction, and the information, is fascinated in females singly and in groups. In her earlier get the job done, she depicted distinct views of a group of Irish nuns and scenes from the everyday living of a preadolescent Japanese woman who, in 2004, slashed a schoolmate’s throat with a box cutter in the “Sasebo slashing.”
A tonalist painter who utilizes a restrained palette of intently related hues to set up a temper, Pettigrew paints uninflected, good styles in acrylic. Her paintings have flat areas in common with Alex Katz and Will Barnet.
It is evenly snowing in “On Foot, Initially Settlement Cemetery” (2021). A dark brown, snow-lined post-and-rail fence angles in diagonally from the painting’s lower remaining edge. The corner post marks the painting’s central axis guiding it the fence slopes down a hill into the distance. The wooden fence presumably encloses the unnamed state’s oldest or first-settlement cemetery. Even so, we do not see any gravestones, only the fencing. On the painting’s suitable facet, a youthful Asian woman in a lengthy, dark brown coat, tan mittens, green dress, and brown tights walks as a result of the snow, a determined glance on her confront. The sky and subject are pale celadon.
The painting’s title suggests that Pettigrew’s juxtaposition of a cemetery fence and a young Asian female recognizes the adjust in America’s demographics from its initial settlers to latest arrivals. And however, this reading, dependent on the title, is not indicated by everything found in the painting. The pale green pallor of the sky and snowy landscape contribute to the somber mood, though the snow underscores the woman’s struggle. The tonally austere palette infuses the painting with a current of understated drama.
Adjacent to Pettigrew’s painting is Levinthal’s oil on panel “Groceries” (2021). We see a seated female with reddish-brown skin in profile. Her hand is flat in opposition to the facet of her experience, obscuring most of it. She is shed in assumed, and pressed shut to the photograph aircraft, with a very long, grey desk stretching again powering her. On the table’s far conclude, in line with the woman’s brow, Levinthal has depicted a cluster of white plastic buying bags. This compression of around and considerably is specified a more twist by the woman’s pink shirt, which is embellished with rows of one eyes with black pupils. An regular problem of a lady who has put the groceries on a table and sat down gets amazing and mysterious.
Levinthal’s focus to specifics in compressed areas is what would make her function sing. In “By the Pool” (2021), a woman’s facial area rises earlier mentioned the painting’s bottom edge. She is seated in front of an vacant pool, a number of drinking water toys floating on its placid cerulean blue area. What jumps out is the woman’s hand, with its shiny purple fingernails pointing down and grazing the bottom edge of the canvas, in this mostly blue, moody painting.
While Pettigrew lays down a stable pores and skin of acrylic paint, Levinthal applies levels of skinny, semi-transparent washes, which she often scrapes down with a razor, providing her function a worn search — which can be read through as a barometer of the subject’s feelings and views. At the exact time, although Levinthal paints herself, her spouse and children, and her close friends, Pettigrew depicts a selection of women of all ages whose faces we are unable to see, as they are turned absent from us, or she hones in on a element, these types of as woman’s arm and hand.
By utilizing this kind of gadgets as paint color and materiality, cropping (which may be motivated by movie), and the definition of a a few-dimensional space, Pettigrew and Levinthal remind us that the most well-worn pictorial prospects can even now be applied to get there at genuine states of sensation as well as challenge clichés about the depiction of girls and persons of distinctive races.
In “October Day, Stonington Harbor” (2020), Pettigrew depicts a young Asian woman’s head and shoulders rising from the painting’s bottom edge, marginally left of centre. Powering her, on the ideal, we see the upper tales of a property with a peaked roof. Among the girl and home is the harbor, in which a couple of boats, with no visible passengers, drift. What I locate hanging about this painting, with its restrained tonal palette, is the juxtaposition of the determine and the landscape, which is of the Maine shoreline and Atlantic Ocean. How frequently have numerous of us viewed scenes of a figure posed in entrance of a harbor? And then contemplate how quite a few periods that figure has been a younger Asian female. I like seeking at this portray, which appears to have no overt message.
I think the strongest bond among these two if not very distinctive artists will come from the hole amongst what we are utilised to looking at and what Pettigrew and Levinthal depict. In their do the job, they display us sights that check with viewers to quit and ponder what they are seeing and that they could not have essentially viewed it ahead of.
Odd Hrs: Aubrey Levinthal and Emily Pettigrew proceeds at Monya Rowe Gallery (224 West 30th Street, #1005, Manhattan) by July 22.