Points of Egress - New Drawings and Paintings on Paper
Amy Cutler’s seventh one-person exhibition at the gallery includes new works on paper originating in “memories, misunderstandings and anxiety,” that explore the psychological impact of these volatile times while transforming internalized emotions and complex ideas into visual metaphors.
Although she is best known for her exquisitely rendered, highly detailed paintings in gouache on paper, Cutler is a profoundly skilled draftsperson. For the first time, nearly one half of the works in the exhibition are drawings in graphite on paper that clearly demonstrate how the sensitivity of her use of line and shading equals the sensual and psychological power of her works in color.
In drawings such as Stow, Cedra, Clementine, and Aidia, all created during the past year, Cutler expands on a theme that she began in 2012 with a series of nearly life-size painted portraits that reveal her subjects’ inner thoughts and feelings by literally depicting what is happening inside of their heads. She writes: The process of making them monochrome, in addition to the slowness of the pencil, had a very strong connection to the subject matter and the mood that I was trying to convey. They are chaotic but there is also stillness. I was interested in communicating something close to the feeling of holding your breath. The exhibition also includes paintings and drawings that feature new interpretations of her longstanding themes and iconography: anthropomorphic animals and female characters engaged in enigmatic situations. Cutler’s animals are surrogates for intense emotions and states of mind; birds represent fleeting thoughts, pigs are intelligent and stubborn but also vulnerable, and horses equal strength, transition, and mobility.
Acknowledging the influence of traditional Persian and Indian miniature painting on her work, Amy Cutler emphasizes the fact that, while extremely detailed, her works have never been extremely small in scale. (Two of the newest paintings in the show, Semblance (2019), and Harbinger’s Grove (2019) measure nearly five feet each.) Cutler says: Even though my works are not miniatures, it requires close viewing to see their many details. The sense of intimacy required in viewing extremely small works is something that has always interested me. You have to spend time with the details in order to discover the narrative in my paintings and drawings. In a way, you are having a conversation with the amount of time that has been encapsulated into the process of creating these works.