Painting the Essential: New York 1980–Present
Focusing on a group of artists who lived and worked in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn in the 1980s, Painting the Essential: New York, 1980–Present is curated by American painter Chris Martin (b. 1954), who came of age as an artist in the vibrant and eclectic New York art scene of this period. Reuniting Martin’s friends, collaborators, and influences, the exhibition foregrounds the ways in which the defining political, social and artistic developments of the decade—the shock and devastation of the AIDS crisis, the battle between abstraction and figuration, the lasting effects of the psychedelic counterculture and the rise of the yuppie boom—shaped the artists’ ensuing lives and work.
The exhibition features works by artists united by their exuberant use of colour, focus on process and intuition, and an inventive approach to different forms of media. Reflecting the maximalist zeitgeist of the decade, many of these artists fused the lessons of Abstract Expressionism with figurative imagery, references to pop culture, and fragments of text—a thread this exhibition traces with works from the 80s to today.