Michelle Grabner's "Gingham" at Rocket Gallery, Art Forum Critic's pick

Michelle Grabner
ROCKET GALLERY
4-6 Sheep Lane
October 14, 2015–January 16, 2016

Michelle Grabner, Untitled [cadmium red deep/green], 2015, oil, gesso, burlap, 24 x 48".

For over twenty years, Michelle Grabner has taken the vernacular patterns of domesticity as a departure point for the creation of abstract paintings. For “Gingham,” her latest exhibition, the artist transmogrifies this common, happy-looking, and picnic-ready fabric into thickly painted works on rough burlap.

From a distance, Untitled [cadmium red deep/green], 2015, looks like a crisscross of red stripes on a white ground. Up close, it reveals itself actually to be made up of pink, red, and white squares over a green ground, the red and pink squares butting against each other in synchronous harmony. The green ground seeping out from beneath each square creates moments of chromatic vibration, loosening the representation of “gingham” into an odd geometric abstraction, a relative of psychedelic Op.

In the project space, Grabner has partially reconstructed her first show at the gallery, “Home Painting,” from 1998. In this installation, seven enamel-on-panel paintings are hung alongside a monitor playing an episode of Martha Stewart’s 1990s television show. “Home Painting” is a marvelous opportunity to see the artist’s graphic, painterly evolution. Her “Gingham” works are fat, voluptuous—rather in stark contrast to the lighter and more fluid stenciling of the older paintings. Grabner’s current pieces, as is made clear through the parallel shows, have become slower to the gaze, transcending the prosaic Martha Stewart domesticity of her inspiration.

— Sherman Sam