Marking the gallery’s first show of works by Joyce Pensato following the artist’s passage in 2019, Petzel’s current show, Fuggetabout It (Redux) marks a fitting summation and reflection on the work of an artist who long mined the languages of pop culture and mass media to create her supercharged mode of painting and sculpture.
The original installation Fuggetabout It made its premiere in 2012 at Petzel’s West 22nd Street location, a presentation and commemoration of the artist’s beloved studio on Olive Street in East Williamsburg, a space she had worked in for over 30 years. The move after three decades prompted a re-evaluation and packing of hundreds upon hundreds of objects and items of all manner, including: stuffed animals; figurines; posters, books, invitation cards, and other paper ephemera; milk crates; furniture, both broken and intact; paint cans and paintbrushes, among others. Almost every object had been paint splattered by being at one time or another in proximity to the artist’s working space, a notoriously animated and paint-splashed technique.
Accordingly, the materials and objects spread throughout her space all seemed marked by a similar aesthetic bent to the artist’s canvases, as if the space had been consumed by the totality of her artistic vision. These objects were the artist’s inspiration, and Pensato found it a fitting tribute and auspicious time to share them publicly as a glimpse into her process. Returning to the gallery this time, the works are now presented as a commemoration of the artist herself, a last look at the sprawling heaps of paint-splattered tools and materials that made up her practice.
In addition to Fuggetabout it (Redux) a selection of Pensato’s “eyeball” paintings are also on view. Inspired by the cartoon characters Felix the Cat, Krazy Kat, and Sesame Street’s Elmo, among other characters with exaggerated and bulging eyes, the artist usually excised any reference to a body leaving a severed head and gaping eyes to fill the picture plane. In these paintings the eyeballs appear in various iterations as astonished, frightened, diabolical, pleading, paranoid, or befuddled. Wrenching these characters from their Pop culture lives and into an Abstract Expressionist world, the artist’s work forced the viewer to hold and make sense of two seemingly disparate existences. This sense carries over into the broader arc of the show, its paintings and installations confronting the viewer with the very real materials of Pensato’s life, and the impact she has left now that she has passed.
The show closes February 27th.
– D. Creahan
Joyce Pensato, Fuggetabout It (Redux) [Petzel]