Thierry Goldberg Projects is pleased to present Strange Days, a group show featuring paintings by Jeana Baumgardner, Alison Blickle, Jordan Buschur, Khalif Kelly, Amy Lincoln, and Hiroyuki Nakamura. In dialogue, these artists move towards new attitudes in figuration. By doing so, they shape new modes and narrative potentials. Straddling their own realities and subjectivities, this group tells of strange days past, present, and imagined.
Arriving at the strange and the mysterious, Jeana Baumgardner portrays an all too familiar life coinciding with unexpected abstract presences. An inherent part of reality, these metaphysical, visionary, perhaps spiritual phenomena sit on the same plane with reality as instants of beauty. The fact that the people and pets in the paintings leave the abstractions unnoticed is a sign of skepticism, a distancing, towards wonder and the transcendent.
Amy Lincoln grapples with presence over representation in a more autobiographical manner. Through a willingness to invent identity and ﬁnd a beauty within the conventional, she portrays her life and identity loosely in such a way that may be called self-portraiture. In paintings like Night in Bushwick, she displays a comfort and humor in the everyday. She ﬁnds herself in each picture as she relates, “I donʼt consider any one of them exactly ʻme.ʼ Yet, they are all taken from my image,” thus expanding the sense of self in portraiture.
More stand-ins for her ancestors than herself, Alison Blickleʼs portraits are an expression of her desire to connect to times past. She conveys a mix of fantasy and reality in her ﬁctional 1000 year “Annual Portraits at the Lake” series. She paints from an imagined scenario in which a family paints a portrait of one female relative every year by the same lake. She muses, “Itʼs all a fantasy of mine.”
Jordan Buschur is also looking to the past for inspiration; the lens of mid-century American magazines such as LIFE and Ladiesʼ Home Journal frames her approach. By altering pictures of a time so sure about its morals, she obscures the certainty of those values by composing ambiguous situations in wavering veils of paint. Buschur uses the edge and materials of Painting to “represent an exterior that speaks to the interior of the painted subject” in all its complexity and uncertainty.
Khalif Kelly addresses charged issues by letting the paint speak too. Though his ﬁgurative style is becoming more geometrically reduced, Kellyʼs palette continues to scream with a saturation all his own. Not all fun and games, the narratives in Kellyʼs scenes of kids at play are suggestive of symbolic self-questioning. His depiction of a contemporary young African American experience is playful, bold, and rich in associations.
Hiroyuki Nakamuraʼs paintings are equally playful, they are located in the frontier days of the American West. Times clearly have changed in this land of opportunity as androgynous figures, white faced from worry and exhaustion, ﬁll the sparse landscape. Occasionally, they gather to writhe and dance for their own entertainment in a freak show commenting on our society—just as one figure leaps nude in Stage Dive or by the symbolic barbed wired and white pregnant belly (greed) in after the gold rush. Concerning American culture, Nakamura takes all these changes in stride. Like a cowboy himself, he maintains a critical eye towards these strange days, but accepts the spectacle, “as a passing point on the line that never ends.”