The Fantastic Painting Show
Chelsea, NYC May 2013
By Sarah Kate Jorgensen
“The Fantastic Painting Show” presents three artists: Rebecca Haskins, Shiri Mordechay and Bettina Sellmann, whose work combines the narrative, the historical and the fanciful. Each are painters who create exciting, multilayered pieces that refer to contemporary time as well as to some ethereal past. Haskins depicts pieces of art from different time periods in conversation with one another to reveal new ways of looking at works of art-‐both historically and a-‐historically. Mordechay’s fantastical and meandering images are densely packed with allusions to the darkness of imagination. Sellmann’s confectionary paintings examine nostalgia, both for the art historical past and for childhood. These artists play with fairytale, romanticism, nostalgia and projections. Seen as a whole, their works reveal the ways artists mine images and themes from the past to play with our sense of the present.
The artists transformed an old nightclub on 27th street in Chelsea for this pop up show. Upon entering the gallery one is struck by the lengthy tableau of fantastical characters by Shiri Mordechay. Her ink paintings are highly detailed imaginary landscapes filled with peacocks and mountains and twisted monsters and pieces of gold and wire. Looking closely then taking a few steps back one can only be amazed at the imagination and skill that was needed to create such a piece of visionary art.
Rebecca Haskin’s highly crafted, elaborate paintings comment on art history and traditions of design. Iconography from the past (ancient sculptures, carpets, furniture, or patterns) serves as a point of departure. Placing the ordinary in a historical context may reinvigorate and expose new layers from beneath a dusty surface. In this show, Rebecca paints a series of juxtaposed chairs and figurative sculptures from different eras and cultures. Richly painted patterns are manipulated to create a dialogue in the spaces among the subjects. Although the objects are inanimate, the paintings create a sense of intimate dialogue across space and time.
Visions of pastels with people and children dancing in and out of them, Bettina Sellman’s paintings have an air of lightness and flirt. The light tones of Sellmann’s recent paintings reinforce and integrate the girlish and kitschy into her painting style. Her paintings here tend to focus on a better, ethereal world- one that Fragonard’s swing might hang.