John Haber reviews a recent exhibition of works by Helene Appel at James Cohan Gallery, New York.
Haber writes: "Appel prefers burlap or linen to canvas—a linen coarse enough than one can hardly miss it... The coarseness helps identify the painted surface with her subject matter, like that light gray fabric or a blue striped cloth. The first is a cleaning rag from her studio, the second rumpled bedding should she need a rest. Other points of color and light look like ground pigment, interrupted by a nail or two. They represent sweepings from the studio floor... Her illusions belong to older traditions as well. In past trompe l’oeil, subjects often drew on the artist’s studio. The array of bottle openers in another painting should last through a long run of open studio visits. Appel alludes to still-life painting as well. Her smallest works picture sides of beef. Like Dutch still-life or Chaim Soutine, they make the point that life is subject to time and decay—and so is art."