New Skin, curated by Jason Stopa opens at Monica King Contemporary


NEW YORK, NY.- Monica King Contemporary is presenting a group exhibition, New Skin, curated by Jason Stopa, from December 13, 2019 – January 25, 2020.  

New Skin features work by artists Michael Berryhill, Clare Grill, Shirley Kaneda, Juan Logan, and Jason Stopa. The artists’ styles are decidedly distinct, yet they are united by their use of elements that are quasi-representational. The works convey an interest in a discreet sense of touch, using decorative and architectural space that flirts with representation, while remaining not literal, and evokes a liminal space of legibility. The exhibition title New Skin is a reference to Miro’s painting Birth of the World, (1925). In that work, Miro poured, brushed, and flung paint on an unevenly primed canvas so that the paint soaked in some areas and rested on top in others. There is an intentional, considered quality to the work, while also a distinctively spontaneous effect. 

Our current cultural moment is incredibly polarized, which has given new life to artists working with direct, representational content. Yet, in this age of easily digestible sound-bites, graphic representations, and categorization, to paint in a way that creates space for imaginative possibility, indeterminacy, and restraint is in of itself a radical act. The artists in New Skin grapple with the enormous possibilities of referential imagery, as found in Michael Berryhill’s evocative pastel surfaces depicting imagery that is almost always unnamable¾a partially rendered dog, a sun, ovoid form, a reference to urban architecture. There is a palpable sense of history in their works, as seen in Clare Grill’s nuanced and materially lush compositions made with a thinly applied touch, which evoke traditional craftwork like the loom or embroidery. Serving as guideposts in homage to memories, particularly those that have slipped away, Juan Logan’s “Elegy” series employs a visual language from which to investigate surface and a distillation of space, built by layers of rich color, redacted surfaces, lines, and head-like forms. Each artist retains a sense of the painterly, such as in Jason Stopa’s work that often begin with a pastel base layered with graphic color, curving shapes, and arrangements of lines evoking basic architectural forms and multiple planes. Shirley Kaneda’s bright and graphic paintings depict large, curvilinear and geometric forms, resulting in works that lie somewhere between emphasizing the facility of the painter’s hand and the untouched nature of a screen print.  

Jason Stopa is painter and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. He received his BFA from Indiana University and his MFA from Pratt Institute. He teaches at The School of Visual Arts and Pratt Institute and works for an academic journal at Columbia University. His recent curatorial projects include “A New Subjectivity: Figurative Painters after 2000” which traveled to Pratt Manhattan Gallery, (2017), University of Arkansas, (2017), The Reece Museum, (2017) and Wesleyan University, (2018).

December 15, 2019