Mary H. Young: Arias Chromatic
Through August 2, 2019

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Curator’s Note

CLERESTORY FINE ART’S second exhibition features large-scale oil paintings by Montclair artist Mary H. Young. Young’s canvases explore the psychodrama of being a woman in 2019, inviting viewers into parallel universes with seductive, luscious colors paired with theatrically posed figures. Her characters dance, lounge, mourn, and stare—set in surreal worlds meant to conjure familiar associations of domesticity, relationships, and nature. The comfort of these settings is then upended as viewers look more closely, realizing the distortion of faces, figures, and atmosphere. Her playful subjects can take a menacing tone in these exercises in psychological exploration, as she deals with emotions like love, loss, and political anxieties.

Formally trained at the School of Visual Arts in New York, Young has the competence only built from vast art historical knowledge and years of studying paintings. Her decisions to suggest or distort form contribute to the dramatic quality of paintings, not unlike the subtle abnormalities of contemporary painter John Currin, known for skewing figural or facial details to disorient the viewer.

Whereas Currin manipulates physiognomy, his mark making and paint application remain traditional by Western standards. Young instead develops her own visual language of large expanses of colors, distortion, and symbolic imagery like chain-link fences, masked figures, shrouded women, forests, and figures suspended in sweeping motion. Their vast scale and distinctive palette allude to separate planes of existence, where emotions and lost relationships are embodied in a performative dimension. This alter-universal quality has a distinctive surrealism which can be compared in style only to Neo Rauch, the large-scale German painter currently represented by David Zwirner. Although Young’s scale and penchant for alternate realities evoke a comparison to Rauch, her distinct feminism, color washes, mark making, and symbolism poise her to become a leading figural painter in the rising generation of 21st century artists. Read the full catalog

The exhibition runs through August 2, 2019.

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