#outsiderartfair Roberta Smith reviews Mitchell-Innes & Nash group show featuring ‘outsider artist’ Judith Scott

*From the exhibition press release:  The gallery is indebted to Ricco Maresca Gallery and Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, CA, for their support of this exhibition.
“Katherine Bernhardt, Alfred Jensen, Chris Johanson, Chris Martin, Andrew Masullo and Judith Scott”  by Roberta Smith
Art in Review, NYTimes July 14, 2011
Among the group shows emphasizing various forms and degrees of abstract painting and painting like abstraction that are vying for attention in Chelsea right now, this selection of works by six artists has an unusual cohesion, even though it lacks a catchy, encapsulating title. Its connecting tissues include strong color, loosely enforced geometries, a tactile use of materials and a high tolerance for reference and allusion to other two-dimensional conventions,including map making and weaving.
The link to textiles is floated by Katherine Bernhardt’s bright, exuberant paintings, whose free-hand, rather runny patterns pay homage to Moroccan fabrics, and the yam-wrapped objects of the outsider artist Judith Scott, whose subtly animalistic, totemic pieces have never looked better than they do here.With these works as brackets, the textilelike qualities of Alfred Jensen’s thick-surfaced grids and rainbow like concentric ovals come to the fore. (His inspirations included Mayan calendars; surely the Incas’ feathered tunics also played a role.)
Two confident, new patched-together abstractions on wood by Chris Johanson split allusions to textiles and to maps. So, to some extent, do Andrew Masullo’s meticulously composed yet hard-to-pin-down fluctuations of figure and ground, which also intimate ancient architecture and stilllifes.
Chris Martin contributes a single work whose encrusted surface includes cardboard collage, large orbs of bright green on an assertive red-orange background and a pasted-on illustration involving a chariot.
Truculent yet celebratory to the extent of even suggesting Christmas, it withstands its rather melodramatic title, “Wounded Hero Returns to the City (for Paul Thek),” while adding to the show’s lively pictorial back-and-forth.
Mitchell-Innes & Nash is located at 534 W. 26th St.
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About Sanford L. Smith & Associates


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