Alex Gross and Esao Andrews at Jonathan LeVine

by JL SchnabelPosted on

Esao Andrews – ‘Solid Void’

The dual solo shows of visionary artists Alex Gross and Esao Andrews opened this past Saturday night at NYC’s Jonathan LeVine Gallery. Each exhibit boasted incredibly rendered worlds separated only by the walls of the gallery. Brooklyn based Esao Andrew’s show, ‘Solid Void’, features an impressive body of work that showcases his maturing style and skills. His typically gloomy and muted color palette popped with the introduction of a bright vibrant blue that carries a wave of subtle euphoria throughout the forlorn works. The complex details of the work, such as the milky spider silk cocoon in the title piece or the shadowy butterfly wing dress of a lone elfish figure, is where Andrews excels. The work features several paintings devoid of any figures, an effect that emphasizes the mood the deserted landscape evokes. A house, glowing from within with the blue glow of televisions or ghostly otherworldly light sits within the dark clouds of a brewing storm. A ship assailed on brazen waters features wing like sails that are strung together by delicately patterned webbing.

Esao Andrews – ‘Young Mary Shelley;

When figures appear within the works, they are often alone within their lush surroundings or grouped together in troupes reminiscent of traveling circuses. Long limbed voyagers ride atop the back of a black horse sharing in libations in ‘Drifters.’ The tension between vacancy and close knit groupings adds a sense of mythology to the work, as if the world explored is done so by these specific drifters, voyaging through a world freckled with mythology and danger. The only piece that calls to mind a specific reference is the portrait of a young Mary Shelley, author of ‘Frankenstein’ The style of the book was written with frames, a story within a story within a story, and one can’t help but think this literary device is at work within Andrew’s paintings as well.

Alex Gross – ‘Wish You Were Here’

Alex Gross returns to LeVine armed with a large body of work composed over the last two years and a new book, both of the aptly named ‘Discrepancies.’ The work appears as extensions of his past works; muted pastels and strange creatures couple with historic figures. However, in his latest body, Gross tackles the unsettling effect of modern technology on our culture. Traditional portraits are marred with the inclusion of cell phones, making the subjects appear distracted and emotionless. A figure in walking in the street on a bright day appears oblivious to the fawn in her path in ‘Wish You Were Here.’ The timelessness of the historical fantasy worlds created in past works is still evident within the new work, yet the inclusion of Apple iphones and name brand clothing pointedly mark the work as belonging distinctly to our era. This choice adds a new dimension to the work. Will these symbols of the cult of technology our culture is revering become something new within the paintings 100 years ago? Could they be omens?

Jonathan LeVine and Alex Gross

Jonathan LeVine and Esao Andrews

Esao Andrews – ‘Drifters’

Alex Gross – ‘Bittersweet Distractor’

Artist Tara McPherson & Maléna Seldin

Esao Andrews – ‘Blithe Spirits’

Artists Eric White & Martin Wittfooth with Jonathan LeVine

Alex Gross – ‘Hummingbird’

Artists Kukula & Jeremy Hush

Esao Andrews – ‘Quilted Sail’

The ladies of Levine

Alex Gross – ‘Koolaid Drinkers’

All words and pictures courtesy of HF correspondent JL Shnabel.

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