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Preview: “Contemporary Romanticism: Mary Jane Ansell, Sam Wolfe Connelly and Stephen Mackey” at Arcadia Contemporary

Elegant figures in repose, lush fabrics and ornate flora — these hallmarks of 17th-century academic painting can be seen in the work of Mary Jane Ansell, Sam Wolfe Connelly and Stephen Mackey, all of whom paint deftly with a distinct sense of style. Grouped together for the exhibition "Contemporary Romanticism," which opens at Arcadia Contemporary in NYC on April 24, these artists use the light, airy style of the original Romantic painters to apprehend contemporary themes and surreal scenarios. Sam Wolfe Connelly's work is decidedly the darkest of the three artists. His drawings and paintings (his oil paintings will be exhibited for the first time in this show) weave a narrative of haunted, backwoods estates where specters creep in the forest and make shadowy appearances in the desolate, countryside houses.


Sam Wolfe Connelly, Ollie Ollie Oxen Free.

Elegant figures in repose, lush fabrics and ornate flora — these hallmarks of 17th-century academic painting can be seen in the work of Mary Jane Ansell, Sam Wolfe Connelly and Stephen Mackey, all of whom paint deftly with a distinct sense of style. Grouped together for the exhibition “Contemporary Romanticism,” which opens at Arcadia Contemporary in NYC on April 24, these artists use the light, airy style of the original Romantic painters to apprehend contemporary themes and surreal scenarios. Sam Wolfe Connelly’s work is decidedly the darkest of the three artists. His drawings and paintings (his oil paintings will be exhibited for the first time in this show) weave a narrative of haunted, backwoods estates where specters creep in the forest and make shadowy appearances in the desolate, countryside houses.

Connelly’s macabre works are counterbalanced by the general optimism of Stephen Mackey, who adds a stylized touch to his paintings, blending Romanticism with elements of the low brow. Though Mackey’s work sometimes references death, it is done in a lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek manner that is quite different from Connelly’s somber air. Mary Jane Ansell’s oil paintings on aluminum focus on refined, yet bored protagonists. Her polished ladies stare off into the distance, inviting the viewer’s imagination to play with what we can’t see inside the frame.

“Contemporary Romanticism” opens at Arcadia Contemporary on April 24 and will be on view through May 15.


Sam Wolfe Connelly, Home Before Dark.

Sam Wolfe Connelly, This Old House.


Sam Wolfe Connelly, What Lies in Maine.


Sam Wolfe Connelly, Umbra.

Mary Jane Ansell, Beyond the Reckoning.


Mary Jane Ansell, Hope and the Reckoning.


Mary Jane Ansell, Little Victories.


Stephen Mackey, The Bride of the Lake.


Stephen Mackey, We Only Come Out at Night.


Stephen Mackey, A Scented Mourner.

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