Stephanie Pierce: Wake
Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York
May 28 – June 29, 2014
Painting communicates most completely when its visual presentation also awakens our other senses. The unseen sensation in painting is most often touch, but can also include sound, as in the works of painter Stephanie Pierce, currently on view at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects. In her paintings, thousands of highly varied marks rise into place, each notation of light rustling gently against the next.
Although the mass of Pierce’s subjects is often consumed by light, her accumulated attention to the sights and sounds of her surroundings creates its own density.
In reproduction, Pierce appears to repeat similar shard-like marks. In person, however, no two marks are the same. Her touch ranges from brushy and barely washed to scraped and masked; often many subtle touches contribute to each discernable shape. Extreme painterliness that doesn’t call attention to itself is rare, but in these paintings physical effect, not painterly incident, grabs our attention.
The duration and intensity of observation in Pierce’s work recalls Giacometti, except there isn’t a hint of absurdity present here, nor is there any obvious urgency. Instead, she approaches the ‘impossible’ task of capturing nature with lucid patience – a consistent, unhurried focus.
The bending of space in Pierce’s series of window paintings initially recalls the sweeping, curved perspective of Rackstraw Downes’ extreme horizontal views, yet Pierce operates within a more standard and often vertical rectangle. Rather than a slow, sweeping vista, here the result is a light-spilling shimmer. Pierce’s awareness of contemporary and historical models never impinges on her own sensibility, she simply adapts techniques and approaches, present and past, to her own ends.
Though Pierce’s paintings result from many months of careful observation, the overall effect is a complete sensation of place at a particular moment. The viewer experiences the buzzing, informed quietude of her pictures directly. That, in and of itself, is a refreshing accomplishment.