Erik Benson, Paul Brainard, Pia Dehne, Hiroyuki Hamada, Elizabeth Huey, Erika Keck, Emily Noelle Lambert, Frank Lentini, Eddie Martinez, Brian Montuori, Bryan Osburn, Kanishka Raja, Erika Ranee, Tom Sanford, Christopher Saunders, Kristen Schiele, Ryan Schneider, Oliver Warden, Frank Webster, Eric White and Doug Young
Allegra La Viola Gallery is pleased to present Die Like You Really Mean It, a group exhibition on view from October 26 – December 3. The exhibition is curated by artists Paul Brainard and Frank Webster and features new paintings and sculpture by over twenty artists living in the New York metro area.
The curators have assembled an energetic and dynamic show, where each work registers as a highly charged expression of the individual artist. Brainard and Webster have maintained a special interest in choosing works that register not as intentionally ironic but rather as sincerely and at times viscerally rendered. This exhibition celebrates painting as a healthy, living, and variegated mode of art making in New York.
The works included in this exhibition are often resistant to purely formalist and conceptual concerns, engaging themes that extend beyond the material media of painting. Figurative and scenic elements may invite narrative readings while color is used forcefully, liberally, or selectively. The expressive qualities of color among the works range widely from Oliver Warden’s transformative explosions of color, to Hiroyuki Hamada’s restrained, bi-chromatic capsule-like wall reliefs. Also of concern among the works is the relationship between the human being and its environment, exemplified by Erik Benson and Kristen Schiele’s depictions of inhabited indoor and outdoor settings, Pia Dehne’s complex compositions in which figure and ground are enmeshed through lyrical patterns of line and geometry, and Kanishka Raja’s use of pattern to unite various specific locations depicted in the same visual space.
Atypically, this show exalts in its contrasts. The works of Chris Saunders and Brian Montuori could best sum this up. Saunder’s paintings are slick and calm on the surface but belie an unsettling and subversive content, while Montuori’s vision is a veritable disgorgement of expressionist storm and bluster. Each artist pushes the medium with equal passion, but in radically different directions, with starkly different results. This passion however is one thing all of the artists in Die Like You Really Mean It share in common.
—Paul Brainard, Kristen Lorello and Frank Webster