Gross McCleaf Gallery is pleased to present Stuart Netsky’s rich digital paintings and colorful sculptural assemblages in Walking Backward into the Future. Here, Netsky continues his innovative exploration of materials and themes well known from his seminal 1992 ICA exhibition, Time Flies. This earlier work, created during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, courageously explored the intersections of the HIV/AIDS epidemic with contemporary domestic life, popular culture, and Western art history. During Netsky’s retrospective in 2006, Rosenwald Wolf Gallery Curator Sid Sachs described Netsky as having a practice that, “operates at the nexus of social representation and sculpture, sexual cliché, and self-presentation. Echoing a variety of historical styles such as Pop Art, Pattern and Decoration, and color field, Netsky retains a crisp classical sense of craft and sense of humor that is deadly serious.” His latest work is no exception as Netsky continues with a clear-eyed honesty and queer sensibility.
Walking Backward into the Future features his new body of work, produced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Netsky states these digital paintings and sculptures, “reflect the temporal paradox in pop culture whereby the past is brought to the present, the present to the past.” Like so many other Gross McCleaf artists, Netsky’s work is in dialogue with art historical imagery and themes. His central imagery appropriates passages from the 18th century artist Francois Boucher, whose rebellious, lavish Rococo style was unrestricted, ornamental, theatrical, romantic, sexual, yet sentimental. Netsky says of his new work, “The rococo and abstraction, op art and pop art, film and realism, microscopic images of viruses, and the psychedelic all come together, spliced, layered, and distorted.”
Walking Backward into the Future maintains its sense of humor, romance, and sentimentality as well as a forward-looking optimism. After four decades of artmaking in Philadelphia, and as one of our distinguished artists, Netsky’s work maintains its strong and direct vision of the human spirit. He remarks, “I view my practice within the context of this time I live in, while embracing nostalgia and romanticism for their tender and universal sensibilities.”
Stuart Jan Netsky was born in Philadelphia, PA. In 1977 through 1983, Netsky was the President and head designer of his own millinery design company in New York City. In 1983, he received a Bachelor of Science in Design and Merchandising from Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. Since 1984, Netsky has been pursuing his career as a professional artist. He received a Master of Art in Art Education from Philadelphia College of Art in 1986 and went on to receive a Master of Fine Art in sculpture from Tyler School of Art, Elkins Park, PA in 1990.
Netsky was an Adjunct Professor at The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Jefferson University.
Stuart Netsky has had solo exhibitions of his work at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art, Larry Becker Contemporary Art, Richard Anderson, NYC, Locks Gallery, Bridgette Mayer Gallery, and a retrospective at the Rosenwald Wolf Gallery, University of the Arts. He has also shown in innumerable group shows nationally and internationally. In 1995, he received the Pew Fellowship in the Arts. His work is in the collections of The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Woodmere Art Museum, as well as the Johnson and Johnson Collection and many private collections. This is Netsky’s first solo exhibition with Gross McCleaf Gallery.
“For the Modernists, painting itself is the subject. But frontality and shallow space also characterize Classical and pre-Renaissance painting. I like straddling the two, working between old and new, between the real and imaginary.”
Elizabeth Geiger is a lifelong student of painted form and has focused on still life for decades. Geiger’s choice to adopt this subject matter has allowed her approach to representation to steadily advance into new territory, guided by the luminaries of art history.
In Borrowed Rhythms, Geiger has relaxed her fidelity to observed forms and colors. Embarking toward a world that embraces the rhythms, tensions and visual contradictions of Cubism, her new paintings playfully divide up rectangular canvases into simplified shapes. While the objects within the pictures remain nameable, their details and textures have been replaced with flat color or quick notations of pattern. These shifts in emphasis transform her paintings into purposeful and surprising compositions containing formal elements that self-reference and rhyme across the picture plane.
While these new works are a departure from Geiger’s previous style, they contain the next logical step on her path, satisfying her personal artistic vision and her unending interest in experimentation. While maintaining her classical sensitivity to color and light, Geiger manages to investigate the conventions of Cubism and Modernism. The result is a sophisticated blend of contemporary, modern, and historical styles of painting.
Elizabeth Geiger attended the University of Virginia for painting, followed by time at the New York Studio School and the Vermont Studio Center. Geiger has won a fellowship from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and shown her work regularly throughout the country. Her work is in the collection of the Sheltering Arms Hospital Richmond as well as the Clay Center Museum of Fine Art in Charleston, WV. Along with her regular teaching at the Beverley Street Studio School in Staunton, VA, she has been a visiting artist at the College of William & Mary and the Kentucky College of Art & Design, spoken at Washington & Lee University and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, taught landscape painting at the Mount Gretna School of Art and leads workshops throughout the Eastern United States. She is married to figurative painter Philip Geiger and they have two children who studied art in college. She lives and works in Virginia.
Gross McCleaf is pleased to present Short & Sweet III, a collection of mini-exhibitions featuring artworks by Graham Cuddy, Henry Murphy, Kimi Pryor, Rhonda Wall and Nasir Young.
Graham Cuddy finds pleasing color and design relationships in his quilt-like paintings. Reminiscent of domestic and functional Folk Art, his handkerchief-sized constructions involve delicately painted color blocks on natural linen, overlaid with distinct hand-stitched patterns of starbursts, grids, and curvilinear lines.
Henry Murphy also takes cues from Folk Art and blends it with American Modernism in his representational paintings. His approach includes references as disparate as Grandma Moses and Fairfield Porter, Bill Trayor and Charles Burchfield. His pictures are sweet, painterly depictions of rural and urban locations.
The city of Philadelphia is Nasir Young’s muse. His paintings are love letters to the many ordinary sights surrounding him, with every pavement crack and graffiti tag carefully represented. Each work is finely painted with care and honesty.
Kimi Pryor and Rhonda Wall each construct universes of their own. Pryor’s paintings conjure dreamlike projections of the subconscious with textured surfaces and foggy forms revealing potentially emotional narratives. Rhonda Wall’s hard-edged, cyberpunk paintings stand in contrast to Pryor’s softly rendered images. While the quizzical works seemingly depict futuristic worlds, Wall creates them in response to real-life events and memories. Utilizing colorful graphics amidst figural components, her resulting mixed-media works are exciting and surreal stories to behold.