On March 17, Hollis Taggart will open Postcards from a Closet, artist Alex Kanevsky's third solo exhibition with the gallery. The presentation features a new body of paintings, produced between 2021 and 2022, that captures Kanevsky's incredible use of color, light, and gesture as well as his fluid engagement with abstraction and figuration. Together, the works in Postcards from a Closet highlight the ways in which Kanevsky brings his painterly approach to a wide range of subjects, while also revealing that painting itself is the artist's greatest and primary interest. A seasoned painter, his latest works nonetheless reflect ongoing experimentation and new inflections of mood, environment, and lived experience. Postcards from a Closet will remain on view through April 16, 2022, at Hollis Taggart's primary location in Chelsea on W. 26th Street. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue, with an essay by art historian and writer Jason Rosenfeld.
Hollis Taggart will host an opening reception for Postcards from a Closet on March 17, from 5:00 to 8:00 PM. The artist will be in attendance. An RSVP is required. Attendees must wear masks and show proof of vaccination.
Kanevsky likens his paintings to music, eliciting particular emotions, memories, and sensations. This is in part the result of his iterative and layered process, which includes painting and experimenting directly on the canvas. Initial articulations are rubbed out and reconfigured, with some elements fully removed and others left visible. This results in a collision of rich colour and light that shifts the contours of the painting's subject in and out of focus and produces a feeling of depth beneath the surface plane. At once tactile and ephemeral, Kanevsky's paintings exude both an active energy and a meditative stillness. He brings this distinct approach to his treatment of landscape, object, and body, suggesting the fluidity and change inherent to all things with the passage of time.
The paintings featured in Postcards from a Closet were created following Kanevsky's move from Philadelphia to rural Tamworth, New Hampshire. With his home and studio set in the environs south of the White Mountains, nature has served as an important point of departure. The exhibition includes several abstracted mountain views that represent different seasons through both subtle and striking changes in colour palette, tonality, and atmosphere. Experienced together, the paintings reflect Kanevsky's masterful use of colour to capture shifts in experience. Apple Tree from Inside (2021), a monumental five-and-a half-foot square painting, offers a view from within the branches of an apple tree. The unexpected vantage point immerses the viewer in shades of greens and blues that evoke both the lines of apples and leaves and a dense, unnavigable forest—the overarching effect is resplendent and transporting. The painting represents Kanevsky's unmistakable style, while also marking a new evolution in his evocation of space and environment.
The human form, and especially the female nude, also remain critical aspects of Kanevsky's oeuvre and a selection of portraits, within both recognisable interiors and dislocated, indiscernible environments, feature in the forthcoming exhibition. Though Kanevsky paints both from life and from photographs, he relishes most the kinetic energy of live models. He often works with the same models for years at a time, developing a strong sense of their individual form and motion. For Postcards from a Closet (2021)—the painting from which the exhibition draws its name—Kanevsky asked several models to engage with the interior spaces of a house, which he then interpreted within a strict 3 x 6 grid that occupies a four-foot square canvas. Together, these scenes articulate both the warm familiarity of home and the disconcerting effect of voyeurism. These sensations are further enhanced by the blurring of boundaries between body and environment, in instances becoming fully blended into an inextricable whole.
In the forward to the exhibition catalogue, Debra Pesci, Director at Hollis Taggart, says of Kanevsky's work, 'His mastery of the techniques of painting is indisputable—he is a seasoned painter, technically brilliant with a highly-developed sense of colour. With his brush he creates mesmerising imagery that is both cerebral and sensual and has a fluid lyricism. This much-anticipated, remarkable group of new works reveals Alex's multilayered approach to abstraction and figuration.'
Born in Russia in 1963, Kanevsky studied theoretical mathematics at Vilnius University in Lithuania before coming to the United States in the early 1980s. He settled in Philadelphia and began painting classes at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in 1989. After receiving a Pew Fellowship in 1997, Kanevsky was able to devote himself to painting full time. The artist has had over twenty solo shows, and has exhibited his work throughout the United States, Canada, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Ireland. He lives and works in New Hampshire.
Press release courtesy Hollis Taggart.