What does the era of social media, where the selfie has entered the lexicon as an endlessly reproducible format, mean for the figure in art? That's a central question explored in "A New Subjectivity: Figurative Painting After 2000," a showcase of diverse and divergent ways the art world is interfacing with an image saturated culture.
The exhibit, curated by the Pratt Institute's Jason Stopa, includes diverse paintings by six women artists that range from the starkly tactile to the hazily surreal. Unifying features include a striking color schema and a deconstructive attitude toward their modern subject matter. In the gallery's reverently clinical space, overlooking a pocket-sized garden nestled in the midst of the university campus, the paintings have an immediately arresting presence. It's fitting for a collection that's concerned with the divide between the physical and the digital worlds.
Heavily influenced by the 20th century traditions of Expressionism, Stopa sees a common thread running from artists like Schnabel and Basqiat to those collected in the exhibition, but he's emphatic that there's a distinctive and very of-the-moment quality to their works. At the onset of alienation brought on by our "technological condition," as Stopa puts it, the painters in "A New Subjectivity' respond through freedom and playfulness, a return to the emotional baseline.
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"A New Subjectivity: Figurative Painting after 2000" is on display through September 22 at the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery, when it moves on to its new residency at Tennessee State's Reece Museum.