Clare Grill and Judy Simonian at Edward Thorp Gallery

Clare Grill, Blanket (2010), oil on linen, 47″ x 63″; courtesy Edward Thorp Gallery

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The paintings of Clare Grill and Judy Simonian sit at opposite sides of a divide that vexes many contemporary representational artists. Though both trade in fractured narratives predicated in middle-class disappointment, Grill’s scenarios are burdened by the literary while Simonian’s coast on painterly flash. Would that the latter’s ambitious set pieces embodied lived experience; instead, Simonian’s considerable acumen feels rootless and glib, if not completely arbitrary. Grill’s wan paint-handling doesn’t always amplify her ghostly ruminations on family and home; there’s a fine line between evocation and evasiveness. The exceptions are Upstairs Window, Pallor and, especially, Blanket (all 2010), wherein other fine lines–between fondness and disdain, nostalgia and regret, wiry tensions and muffled emotions–are deftly negotiated and brought to unnerving fruition.

© 2011 Mario Naves

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