Life in Halves
Life in Halves presents a new suite of large scale paintings on canvas and a group of works on paper that extend her interest in the externalization of physical and psychological experience via abstraction. Using a diverse vocabulary of mark-making tools, including fingers, rags, brushes, mono-printing techniques and rollers, Neel’s paintings are ripe with emotive lyricism suggestive of the correlative and repetitious cycles of daily life.
The titular works in the exhibition, two paintings titled Life in Halves (#1,#2), are indicative of Neel’s conceptual perspective, while not a diptych, the works purport meaning through juxtaposition – like twins, they suggest an imperfect mirroring through their similarities in palette, form, and shape while remaining firmly autonomous. For Neel, the paintings function as entities emblematic of the way we conceive of meaning in life through similarity and difference in a way that is not necessarily universal but interpretive.
Analogous marks appear and reappear throughout her compositions–flat opaque swaths of white, extended droplets of paint, sweeping arches, and textural clouds of color occupy the raw canvases as cooperative forces to build dynamic visual equations. These marks act as architectural or bodily supports, anchors for which to center or contain forces of energy and movement that ripple through the paintings. Switching from vertical to horizontal, the marks act as points of reference and punctuations to orient the space of her compositions and to invite the viewer to absorb and consume their connections.
More explicitly thematic are Neel’s works on paper, interpretations of the American flag in ultramarine blue, cadmium red, and a combination of the two. Part of a larger series of 50, the works are a meditation on representation and identification with a loaded symbol of nationhood, interrogating its meaning in our current political moment. Titled US the works question individual and collective identity as it shifts and morphs. Using only two colors, ones associated with divisive political perspectives, Neel suggests that politics are not simply “red” and “blue”, she introduces nuance and complexity into her various interpretations. The gallery has published an artist book on the occasion of the exhibition.