One of the most divisive art debates of the 20th century was the one between abstract and figurative art. With the appearance of Cubism and movements and artists that proceeded, the advancement towards a non-objective abstraction became the dominant course of modern art. Figurative art, the term that stands for representational and mimetic art derived from social reality, became the antithesis of abstract art and was discredited, shunned and labeled as retrograde. The exhibition curated with the idea of rejecting this division and perceiving art as a whole, will soon open at Cuevas Tilleard gallery in New York. The exhibition called Let's Walk will feature works by diverse artists Philip Hackworth Ashley, Todd Bienvenu, Ariel Dill, Alex Heffesse and Andy Ralph.
In reality, for many artists throughout the 20th and 21st century, the borderline between abstraction and figuration was much blurrier, which led them to create works somewhere in between the two. Pablo Picasso even stated once that abstract art doesn’t exist, since the artist must always start with something and afterward remove all traces of reality if wanted. Perceiving the attempts of creating the clear demarcation line between figuration and abstraction as outdated, Let’s Walk gathers different multimedia artists to explore the endless possibilities, narratives and aspects of the figure as a motif in modern art. Comparing the art-making or art history with walking, the curators perceive the constant adjustments as necessary in order to continue walking and keep the conversation moving.
The works of the artists presented in the exhibition are very diverse since they work in different media creating different narratives. Some of the works that will be featured are Sock Game (Fatigue) by Alex Heffase, a Brooklyn-based artist and designer exploring a broad range of surroundings and topics such as landscape, urban forms, clothing, social behavior or a human body; Thermal Uprising by Andy Ralph, who takes everyday objects and items found in hardware stores and transforms them into surreal sculptures; Under The Spell by Ariel Dill, an artist exploring colors, patterns and the power of the brushstroke creating the sense of depth and movement in her lush paintings; Untitled (T.B.T.) by Philip Hackworth Ashley; and Brony by Todd Bienvenu, who deals with appetites for company, pleasure, fun and music in his paintings.
Cuevas Tilleard gallery in New York was established by a curatorial duo Anna Maria Cuevas and Caroline Tilleard. The gallery was founded in 2015 with the idea to gather the best young emerging artists. With their tightly curated exhibitions, Cuevas Tilleard aims to create a direct dialogue between their favorite artworks, artists and faces. The exhibition Let's Walk will not end or resolve this ongoing debate about the figurative and abstract art, but it will definitely create a direct dialogue and keep it moving. Let’s Walk will be on show from March 17th till April 17th, 2016.
Editors’ Tip: A Brush with the Real: Figurative Painting Today by Margherita Dessanay
Find out more about the contemporary artists embracing figurative and representational art. A Brush with the Real gives a closer look at these contemporary artists working within a realist tradition. The book examines the life and the work of each of them, analyzing their methods, motives or different sources and inspirations from various media. These 51 artists are breathing new life to painting and representational art, taking it a completely new direction. Some of them use appropriation and found images, some of them are trying to move closer to contemporary reality and a first-hand experience, some are using painting as a portal to an imaginary world. This book will give you an insight into the revival of figurative painting in the era of digital and infinite reproduction.
Featured image: Alexander Heffesse - Sock Game (Fatigue), 2015. All images courtesy of Cuevas Tilleard.