Mario Naves posts his catalogue essay for the exhibition Wit, curated by Joanne Freeman, at The Painting Center, New York through February 23, 2013. The exhibition features works by Marina Adams, Polly Apfelbaum, Joanne Freeman, Joe Fyfe, Barbara Gallucci, Phillis Ideal, Jonathan Lasker, Sarah Lutz, Doreen McCarthy, Mario Naves, Thomas Nozkowski, Paul Pagk, Ruth Root, Fran Shalom, and Stephen Westfall.
Naves writes: "Eschewing the purity that was once abstraction’s sine qua non, the artists featured in Wit opt for an almost promiscuous inclusivity. No inspiration is suspect. High-flown ambitions–sure, we got ‘em; historical cognizance, too. But these artists are also characterized by a willingness to embrace a veritable laundry list of references: nature, narrative, comics, design, technology, science, representation and, not least, humor. Not that humor has been entirely absent from the history of abstract art: Malevich pranked Mona Lisa five years before Duchamp and Mondrian paid winning homage, in oil and canvas, to his beloved boogie-woogie music. Still, abstraction nowadays is more and more a repository of quirks, tics and pictorial double entendres, having as much in common with Buster Keaton, say, as Neo-Plasticism."
"Seen in concert, these exhibitions demonstrate that Apfelbaum is an impressively crafty artist, and not only because her materials of choice are glitter, clay, and hand-dyed velvet. More important is the artist’s clever and considered deployment of these supplies. Apfelbaum selects these materials not to displace painting, but rather, to tell us something about it: what it’s been, what it is, and what it could be."
Roberta Smith noted in a 2010 review that "Ms. Apfelbaum... [is] trying a new tack. Working in a manner reminiscent of the colored-glass technique of milles fleurs, she has fashioned small, smooth, brightly patterned panels she calls Feelies from contrasting shades of polymer and plasticine clay. There is a cuteness factor here, but it is quickly overruled by the blazing colors, assorted stripes, dots, checks, swirls and grids and abstract intelligence evident in the 200- plus examples."
Some of these works are visible in Abelow's photos.
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.