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All right, so this two-against-one show isn’t actually a slugfest. But it’s an interesting and rewarding confrontation of styles, of outlooks concerning how art is created and what it’s meant to be. Both Aubrey Levinthal and Lauren Garvey are represented by oil paintings, while Eileen Goodman is represented by large-format watercolors.
The works of Levinthal and Garvey, which occupy Gross McCleaf’s front gallery, are strongly lyrical. Garvey’s especially is almost musical in its impact. The brush strokes are aggressive and seem to be laid down with abandon.
Levinthal, while sharing Garvey’s love of bold brushwork, is more restrained by the representational nature of the work. (Garvey pretty much works in the style of Abstract Expressionism, while I would call Levinthal’s work Expressionism in extremis, but still in the Expressionist style.)
Levinthal and Garvey seem to lose themselves in the sheer joy of expressing themselves through pigments. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call their work happy, it does contain its fair share of brio.
Eileen Goodman, by contrast, works in a less forgiving medium— watercolor— and her work conveys a sense of control, of things being thought out and carefully applied. One might think that all this discipline would result in some pretty lifeless work, but that’s far from the case. Goodman’s work is full of color and filled with life.
In this show she displays floral pieces, but several of these are enlivened by the addition of brightly colored koi fish maneuvering their way through the lily pads. Perhaps because she works in a large format, her flowers command and demand our attention. We notice details of structure, and instead of merely seeing blobs of pretty color, we see living organisms going about their work.
So in what does the “versus” aspect of the show consist? Romanticism vs. Classicism, emotion vs. control, first thoughts vs. detailed schematics— all of these rivalries are present.
What, When, Where
Aubrey Levinthal and Lauren Garvey: “Finding What Was Lost”; and Eileen Goodman, “Evocative Still Lifes.” Through October 26, 2013 at Gross McCleaf Gallery, 127 South 16th St. (215) 665-8138 or www.grossmccleaf.com.
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