On view this summer in New York, Cheim & Read gallery invites artist Maureen Dougherty to present Borrowed Time, a selection of new works by the painter and filmmaker. Continuing the artist’s work in documentary modes that branch both creative practices, the works on view here are direct and unflinching portraiture, stark in color and form in a manner that explores the sitter’s persona in deep, rich nuances.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maureen Dougherty traveled to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where she joined a colleague to collaborate on a documentary film project. She had planned to be away from New York for about a month. The ensuing lockdown instead kept her in Pittsfield for more than two years. A longtime abstract painter, she found a small room that she could use as a studio and began to make meditative ink drawings at five o’clock each morning. These drawings would incrementally develop into figurative imagery, taking her art in a wholly new direction. The works here stem from this time, straightforward portraits that mix together straight-forward depictions with comical scenes, moments of wry abandon, and colorful, exploratory ventures. There’s clear ties to Alex Katz, and to the broader histories of modern portraiture, but in equal measure Dougherty explores her figures in a new light, using their figures to pose new questions.
In Beautiful Boy, for instance, the artist gives the same cool, restrained approach as the touchstones cited above and in her press materials, yet equally there’s a moment of personification and quiet self-representation, the sitter’s personality surging forth from the surfaces of these works. Dougherty, rather than imposing a stylistic will, seems to accommodate and attenuate the face of her figures to each new sitter, facial expressions welling up to the surface in a way that each work feels like it’s own enterprise.
The show closes September 16th.
– D. Creahan
Cheim & Read [Website]