Just opened this past weekend during the run of fairs over the course of the last week, The Brant Foundation Art Study center presents an exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Spencer Sweeney, the painter and artist whose rich, figurative compositions span a range of modes and practices, from show flyers to portraiture, abstractions to historical interpretations.
Known for a psychologically rich figuration, as well as collaborations with various musicians, performers, and artists in the downtown New York City art scene, Sweeney’s work mines a playful space between careful references to the history of figuration, and an expressive, free-floating approach to the body. Beginning on the lower level of the Foundation, Sweeney will introduce the exhibition with a series of self-portraits with significant emotional depth and tension as the subconscious fights to the surface of the canvas. With these works, Sweeney reaches inside to express the psychological territory he is navigating as he goes about his daily routine. Works such as Rouge Bather (2018), Studio (2010), Self Portrait Transposition (2013), and Pregnant Woman on Horseback (2010), create a sometimes humorous and self-deprecating tableau of interior fantasies, insecurities, musings, and struggles involved in the creative process.
In addition to his paintings, music is central to Sweeney’s practice, and the artist has been a vital presence and performer in his own right in the nightlife and music scene of New York City. Further galleries will feature announcement paintings from various events, parties, musical shows, and concerts that Sweeney helped organize. The posters feature names of performers and artist collaborators such as Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, Peter Doig, Telfar Clemens, Afrika Bambaataa, Craig Harris, Pete Drungle, Kai Althoff, Pheeroan akLaff, and Jay Rodriguez, among others.
Throughout, Sweeney’s embrace of color and line makes for expressive and intriguing works, with bodies floating in and out of focus, while others trace the bodies’ outline with a flowing, expressive hand that allows the body to emerge from the gentle arcs of the brush. Showcasing an artist that winds his way through both social engagement and interpretive, personal experience, the show is a fascinating look at work that simultaneously traces the past 15 years of New York cultural history.
The show closes September 15th.
– D. Creahan
Spencer Sweeney: Perfect [Exhibition Site]