Critique Collective

Critique Collective is your source for information and interviews about emerging and established contemporary artists.

Tag: review

Meet the Young Faces of Contemporary Painting

Undergraduate painting students at Syracuse University’s Department of Art are proving the lasting power of painting in the 21st Century.


Mary Luke’s Painting

Samantha Glevick's artwork

Samantha Glevick’s artwork

Maritza Feliciano's Paintings

Maritza Feliciano’s Paintings

An exhibition of recent work by students in the undergraduate painting major at Syracuse University is on display in the school’s Shaffer Art Building from March 2 – March 15, and the depth of talent is startling.

Jenna Race’s expansive chicken tryptic overwhelms viewers as they enter the senior show, evoking thoughts about meat factories and the way animals are processed and treated for human consumption. This tryptic, about twelve feet in length, possesses hauntingly accurate forms of repeated and disemboweled chickens rendered in oil paint and encased in hints of skin-like latex. A few feet away are Mary Luke’s expressionist portraits, which exist somewhere between Jenny Saville’s figurative prowess and Cy Twombly’s expressive force. They are followed by Talia Haviv’s paintings of nude men in suggestive poses, Julia Grosso’s bodily collages, Samantha Glevick’s works that question the meaning of home and identity, and Maritza Feliciano’s colorful depictions of nude women. Juniors, sophomores, and freshmen are displaying their work on the fourth floor of the same building, featuring a wide variety of abstract and representational painting talent.


The Wall at Syracuse University


Syracuse University Painting Program Undergraduate Juniors

Kevin Larmon, a Syracuse University professor and painting department coordinator whose work is featured in prominent art collections such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, is proud of his blossoming students. He claims that “this is the most exciting group of undergrads I’ve had in years.”

Despite the anemic economy and heavy college loan burdens, these students have followed their passion for painting. As a result, their work transcends the pastiche, market-driven repertoire dominating the safe establishment art scene. Led by lauded artists and professors Sharon Gold, Andrew Havenhand, Kevin Larmon, and Jerome Witkin, the undergraduate painting majors at Syracuse University are spearheading the return of stimulating, eccentric painting in the 21st century. From criticism of the average American diet to commentaries on internet politics and the use of paint in a contemporary fashion, there’s no denying that these paintings are energetically, dangerously, forcefully fresh, emphasizing the potential for the next generation of painters to reinvigorate the legacy of American painting.


Julia Grosso’s painting


Junior Victoria Carrigan’s Paintings


Freshman Hannah Moore’s painting


Junior Painting


Lilly Thomann’s artwork

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Rasdjarmrearnsook’s Two Planets Series Astounds

The perfect appetizer for the Denver Art Museum’s Passport to Paris exhibition is hidden in a dark corner on the museum’s fourth floor. Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s Two Planets series illustrates perception as a function of social conditioning and challenges the notion that art viewers must be properly cultured to understand a master painting’s meaning. Rasdjarmrearnsook introduces small groups of Thai villagers to reproductions of Western master paintings such as Jean-François Millet’s The Gleaners. As the group interprets Millet’s The Gleaners by finding aspects of its own culture immersed in the painting, Rasdjarmrearnsook exposes how the struggle of every viewer to find meaning in a master painting results in a valuable point of view.

Facing away from the camera, the Thai villagers explain that they can’t comprehend the artistic intent within the Millet painting in front of them. Are the gleaners “digging for bugs” or harvesting rice? And where are the elephants used for field labor? The villagers are candid as they repetitively claim not to know anything at all. But they know as much as we do. The way they struggle with the painting and attribute personal meaning to it is how every art appreciator should.

Define the forms. Apply your own life experiences to the work. Develop an interpretation, whether narrative or conceptual. Paintings are masterworks because they invite varied interpretations, which is exactly why Passport to Paris visitors should experience the enlightenment of Two Planets first.

Rasdjarmrearnsook’s work is a masterpiece itself because of its ability to inspire imagination. I found myself voyaging into an introspective space for nearly half an hour as English translations of befuddled Thai conversations rolled across the bottom of the screen. The sound of birds and wilderness hearkened back to my childhood while camping in the Rocky Mountains and discussing life’s intricacies with my family over card games and an open fire. The humid and growing landscape brought about a crescendo of nostalgia, hope, and satisfaction for a fleeting moment.  How is my perception formed? What does this painting mean given my past experiences? Do I really know anything? I was entranced. Illuminated. Inspired.

“It’s just a bunch of women talking in another language,” muttered another museum goer who peeked in for just a second.

And then it was gone.

Have fun seeing the French masters in the Denver Art Museum, and take the time to appreciate the covert contemporary master on the fourth floor.

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