Sharon Sprung’s Portraits of Contemplative Women

by Sarah GianelliPosted on

Setting soft and supple nudes against graphic patterns and textures, Brooklyn-based painter Sharon Sprung utilizes the tension between abstraction and realism to appease her own inner dichotomies and create art that expresses emotional complexities. But unlike many artists who muddle the polarities of figuration and abstraction into ambiguity, Sprung leaves them distinct, engendering a contrast that intensifies the impact of each.

Sprung’s figures are palpable. Whether it’s a fullness of flesh alive with the sheen of sweat or the poignant delicacy of back bones protruding through thin, pale skin. Her models give the impression that they could relinquish their pose and walk off the canvas at any moment, a realism heightened by leaving their imperfections intact — a woman’s tan lines, a sag of skin, and natural creases.

Sprung’s communication of the universal through the flesh and posture of the individual is enhanced by stylized chromatic touches — a pair of yellow boots or shaggy multicolored hat; artfully draped textiles and wallpaper with abstracted patterns, or a simple, uniform background.

Citing influences such as Caravaggio, Velazquez, Egon Schiele and Kathe Kollwitz, Sprung holds the belief that the best realism is actually really good abstraction, and through her figurative portraiture has found a way to synthesize her equal respect — and talent — for both.

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