Elsie Kagan, Rough Winds Do Shake the Darling Buds of May, 2008, 72 x 96 inches, acrylic and oil on canvas
Elsie Kagan isn’t the first young painter to mix the aesthetic attributes of the Baroque with those of Abstract Expressionism; certainly the Gagosian superstar Cecily Brown comes to mind. And yet there are fewer similarities between the two artists than one would expect,as Kagan typically takes a much greater interest in the source imagery itself. In this way, her paintings seem equally invested in the concepts of contemporary collage as they do the formalism and iconography associated with the Baroque and Abstract Expressionism.
Part of a series of four paintings each made to usher in a new season, this Spring time work shares the same bold palette and compositional framing devices of woven tapestries. I know it’s summer time in New York, but in light of the fact that we probably all enjoy slightly cooler weather than what we’ve recently experienced, this piece will grace our masthead for the next two weeks. On a more practical note, the Summer painting has also not yet been completed so you’ll want to check in on Kagan’s website over the next month or two for that.
Elsie Kagan, Statement
Elsie Kagan’s paintings take Baroque imagery and architecture as reference points, pairing the familiar iconography of that period (celestial realms, elaborate framing devices and decoration, figures in states of extremity) with iconic tropes of abstract expressionism (the performed, bodily ‘gesture’, the drip). Figurative and illusionistic elements are constituted–and consumed–by marks and painted elements that lie on the canvas surface. The opposition of these languages is part of an inquiry into themes of authenticity, corporal experience, and control.
Originally from Berkeley, CA, Elsie now lives and works in Brooklyn.