New YorkGroup Exhibition
Halsey McKay Gallery presents a group show of new painting and sculpture by James English Leary, Milena Muzquiz, Hilary Pecis, Ryan Steadman and Johannes VanDerBeek. Each artists hints at human presence without full depiction of the human form. Scrawled notes in silouettes, emmanating visages in floral bouquets, depiction of pets and libraries all hint at a narrative just beyond reach that floats between memory and imagination.
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James English Leary’s wooden silhouette-shaped panels contain interloping shapes and transversing bodies. In some works, narrative is winnowed to a single gesture: a flicking finger, and a post-it note being posted. The projection of body parts onto, into and through the profile silhouettes—and the containment of depicted space within actual space—enacts camp-psychological satires of interpretation and self-knowledge.
In a process of cutting and scoring her clay, applying it to the vessel like paper or ’notebook cut-outs’ then layering colours, patterns, images, tendrils, baubles and pendants, Milena Muzquiz creates complex self-portraits, so full of movement, they’re almost performative. Muzquiz speaks that her ceramics are not so fa her performance art, where she has an established reputation as one half of the art band Los Super Elegantes, which has performed for 15 years at museums, fairs, galleries and art institutions. She cites the ‘kitchy yet profound’ aesthetic of the Mexican souvenirs sold at the border as a formative force in her vocabulary.
Hilary Pecis uses her surroundings as inspiration and paints outtakes from snapshots of dinner parties, friends’ homes, gardens, collections and libraries. Each are granted saturated life in visually stunning, modest memorials. The process of translating these photographs into paintings allows Pecis the opportunity to meditate on the specific moment and memory captured, helping her to create sincere translations of her own experiences. These are portraits without figures through which we glean an understanding of the artist herself.
Much like the early pop artists who sought to replicate everyday objects in order to see them in a new light, Ryan Steadman’s wax and oil paint wooden panels represent abstractions of real books.Sections of mottled and brushy pigment suggest Expressionism — a technique that contradicts a real book’s seamless surface and allows for unique and personal interpretation. Often the text and details are removed in favor of sections of high-keyed color and varied line work to create icons that become, much like the actual books themselves, ruminations on the mysteries of life and death. In three-dimensional stack sculptures, multiple book paintings are juxtapozed to create newly implied narratives through surprising combinations of images, logos, and shapes.
Johannes VanDerBeeks new works plays on the traditional sculptural bust, transforming an art historical tenet into a representation of psyches of contemporary life. Faces are cut in half, brought back together, dissected and expanded, examining the ideas of growth and being propelled to change. Through his sculptural imagery, the viewer is able to channel ideas both figuratively and literally. The sculptures themselves burst with shapes and forms that allude to the specific—from flowers to butterflies—and from these representations abstract ideas come to light. The metamorphosis of a butterfly mimics the psychological change in a human and the forms in the works convey undulating emotion and frenetic energy, pervasive concepts in the current state of the world.
James English Leary is a New York-based artist. He received his B.F.A. from Cooper Union in 2004. His paintings enact concrete comedies out of the medium’s component parts to satirize follies of the mind and body. He is a Tiffany Foundation Award recipient and a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation resident. Leary’s works have been exhibited nationally and internationally, including the Whitney Biennial, the Liverpool Biennial, Greater New York, MoMA PS1 and the Sundance Film Festival. He is a founding member of The Bruce High Quality Foundation. Leary teaches at The Cooper Union School of Art.
Milena Muzquiz lives and works between Los Angeles and Guadalajara, Mexico. Previous solo exhibitions include Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Museum of Art (2019); The Tuk Tuk Flower Studio, London (2015); Travesía Cuatro, Madrid, Spain (2014); Travesía Cuatro, Guadalajara, Mexico (2014); Pantaleone Gallery, Palermo, Italy (2010); Interior Projects, Los Ángeles (2008) and Deitch Projects, New York, USA (2000). Her work has been presented in individual projects at Frieze New York (2015) and ARCO Madrid (2016). She has participated in group shows in the following institutions, galleries and biennials: Peter Kilchmann (2015); 6th Liverpool Biennial (2010); 28th Bienal de Sao Paulo (2008); Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (2007); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2007); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and MUSAC, Castilla y León, Spain (2016).
Hilary Pecis earned a BFA and MFA from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA. Recent solo exhibitions include Rachel Uffner Gallery, NY; The Crisp-Ellert Museum, St. Augustine, FL; Halsey McKay, East Hampton, NY; The Pit, Los Angeles, CA; Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA; among others. Pecis has participated in numerous group exhibitions, at venues such as Brand Library & Arts Center, Glendale, CA; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; University of Texas, San Antonio, TX; Dominican University of San Rafael, San Rafael, CA; and Southern Exposure, San Francisco, CA; and a forthcoming exhibition curated by Helen Molesworth at Jack Shainman Gallery – The School, Kinderhook, NY; among others. The artist’s work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New Yorker, and CARLA. Pecis was the 2008 recipient of the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Murphy and Cadogan Fellowship and is a co-founder of Binder of Women, a collective of female artists based in the Los Angeles area. Pecis lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Pecis is represented by Halsey McKay Gallery.
Ryan Steadman has exhibited internationally, with solo shows at Karma, Safe Gallery, and Pablo’s Birthday in New York, and group exhibitions at Van Doren Waxter in New York and Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton among others. His work has been written about in Time Out New York, Modern Painters, and Artinfo.com. Steadman has written about art for Cultured Magazine, Artforum, and The New York Observer. He also periodically curates exhibitions, including the show RE(a)D at Nathalie Karg Gallery in New York, NY, Trust Issues at Ronchini Gallery in London, UK, and the exhibition In My Room: Artists Paint the Interior, 1950 – Now at the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.
Johannes VanDerBeek graduated from Cooper Union in 2004. His work has been featured in High, Low & In Between at White Flag Projects in St. Louis, A Disagreeable Object at Sculpture Center, Long Island City, National Projects at PS1/MoMA, Amazement Park: Stan, Sara and Johannes VanDerBeek at the Tang Museum at Skidmore College, Personal Freedom, Portugal Arte 10 Biennial and Trapdoor, an exhibition organized by the Public Art Fund at MetroTech. VanDerBeek lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Courtesy of the artists and Halsey McKay Gallery, New York