Shannon Cartier Lucy: Woman with Cake, 2021
Plenty of shows bring together paintings of figures and objects in unusual contexts or brought into unexpected conjunctions: the words ‘uncanny’ and ‘enigmatic’, ‘disturbing’ and ‘surreal’ are likely to be invoked. But, even if the paintings are good, you need more to turn such a display into a compelling whole. Two current exhibitions demonstrate how:
Shannon Cartier Lucy: Woman in Meringue, 2021
Nashville-based Shannon Cartier Lucy’s ‘Cake on the Floor’ at Soft Opening sets eleven paintings into a loose narrative of what looks like a perversely dysfunctional party. Some guests strike the poses of classical nudes, but dressed in multi-hued anoraks. A cake fork and scissors are brandished with apparent intent. Others interact oddly with cake and party ribbon, culminating in a woman becoming totally slathered in meringue. All of which lockdown production also feels rebellious at a time when no actual partying is allowed. The images aren’t derived from Internet searches, but the press release does mention that ‘cake on the floor’ generates 257m results on Google (that must have been written a while ago: I got 307m results and I guess you’ll get more…)
Joseph Yaeger: Conversation 1 and Conversation II, 2021
The paintings in Joseph Yaeger’s ‘Doublespeak’ at Project Native Informant are accompanied by a publication: a stream of consciousness-come-poem-come-philosophical musing by the artist. Yaeger explores the limitations of language for giving access to the inner states of other people, and wonders whether it might be possible to solve the conundrum through images. The paintings feature ways in which what we see or hear might be distorted: several use refraction in glass or reflection in mirrors, others depict constraints on speech. Thus, for example, the titles of ‘Conversation 1’ and ‘Conversation II’ suggest talking, but the closeness of the tongues is such that linguistic communication must give way to non-verbal means. And the paintings have a slightly odd lushness, generated through the unusual medium of watercolour on gessoed canvas.
Joseph Yaeger: Only the dead are eloquent, 2021
Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head