July 9, 2019

Sarah Faux, Haley Josephs, RJ Messineo, Wang Chen @ Thomas Erben Gallery, NYC - Pleasure in Precariousness

Sarah Faux, Haley Josephs, RJ Messineo, Wang Chen: Pleasure in Precariousness 
Thomas Erben Gallery, New York
Through July 26, 2019

Thomas Erben presents Pleasure in Precariousness, an exhibition of works by Sarah Faux, Haley Josephs, RJ Messineo, and Wang Chen. Across painting, video, and collage, Pleasure in Precariousness surveys a slippery and open corporeality, rendering the self/body/subject as variously disembodied, fragmented, agape, multiplied, absent, or implied. A searching quality threads the works, aided by the artists’ respective (and often shared) explorations into eros, play, touch, and interiority, as does a common inclination for painting.

Apprehending “the canvas as analogous to a body,” Sarah Faux’s (b. 1986, Boston, MA) work in painting and cut-outs (collaged canvas works) conjure scenes of a shifty, somatic nature. Entering into the sensual, the flowing lines in her cropped paintings echo shivering states of desire. In Float Tank (2019), two boldly outlined hands run over a hirsute chest, green and black swirling marks suggesting tangles of hair, while a tenderly rendered face rests quietly in the bottom-left corner. How all these body parts add up or not (two, three, or more people?) remains an ongoing question left elusively unanswered.

Similarly moving through internal, emotional landscapes, Haley Josephs’ (b. 1987, Seattle, WA) paintings radiate with saturated colors and engrossed female figures. In Fallen (2018) a spotlighted figure lies stomach down on a lawn of smeary green foliage, streaks of blues and orange, and a pool of yellow. Flushed-faced, hazily unworried in the wake of the title’s implied stumble, the youthful subject’s defined eyes look vacantly up to meet the viewer. Expressionistic with a keen sense for color, Fallen manifests a psychedelic, private worldview.

Exploring sexuality, gender, and self within morphing, immersive, amusement parkesque digital worlds, Wang Chen (b. 1991, Hohhot, China) creates paradoxically personal video and installation works. Presented as a single-channel video, The Rabbit Hole (2015) descends, hovers, and veers through a series of colorful, raster graphic chambers. Mixing cuteness and violence, drawn and painterly gestures, embodied and animated rabbit figures, the video is a beguiling trip into Wang’s own Wonderland.

Conspicuously abstract amid the figurative works of the other artists in the exhibition, RJ Messineo‘s (b. 1980, Hartford, CT) paintings nevertheless chart both inner-states and outward encounters with the built world. Attaching shaped sheets of thin plywood onto often large stretched canvases — creating paintings in paintings — Messineo’s “second surfaces” make reference to windows, blankets, and the experience of looking at painting and at the city.

Whether it be the gestural washes, lines, and strokes in Wang’s video works; Josephs’ saturated, exalted portraits; Faux’s sensual, bodily entanglements; or the abstract approaches to spatiality in Messineo’s canvases, painting offers all of these artists a means for revelation, transformation, and, often, what RJ Messineo has called, “pleasure alongside precarity.” 

526 West 26th Street, floor 4, New York, NY 10001