Henri Rousseau, the self-taught French artist, influenced early modernists, like Matisse and Picasso, with his “naive” style - predictably childlike, brightly colored, and imaginary, with a non-scientific perspective. A group exhibition at OSP gallery entitled ”My Perspective" promotes the emergence of contemporary “faux naive”, while provoking us to question why each artist, individually, has chosen to depict scenes in a“naive” style - despite their academic training.
To begin with, all works in this exhibit are paintings. After experiencing the growth of noisy, electronically-projected art, we may find it refreshing to view a group of optimistic painters depicting non-violent “genre” scenes, quiet interiors, and safe, serene outdoor settings. In post 911 America, where many joyfully sedate themselves with prozac and reality television programs promoting superficial lifestyles, sophisticated art buffs seeking pleasurable escape may want to take Matisse’s prescription - art should be like “a good armchair” - comfortable and relaxing.
Carolyn Schiszcz’ “Shear Pleasure”, a darling painting of a lone suburban hair salon, is situated on a quiet street void of people. Unlike a painting of an architectural exterior by Hopper, where light and shadows evoke feelings of deep loneliness and the combination of colors deliberately disturbs, “Shear Pleasure” delivers what it promises on the border of kitsch, at least in the mispelled version. The flat, cartoon-like building, with inviting red doors, and the large pink sky - executed with big, childlike brushstrokes – recall Matisse’s daring color juxtapositions, in red and pink, and the visual flavor of “Madeline” children's book illustrations. Suited for women seeking an unadulterated “Pleasantville”, “Shear Pleasure” offers small town solace with a departure from life’s responsibilities.
Ann Toebbe’s “Mornings Vacuuming”, an interior view of a possible NYC studio apartment, reflects, like Picasso’s experimentations, multiple perspectives realistically unperceivable by the human eye. A multi-patterned environment, segmented into varying perspectives within a 360 degree radius and from an aerial point of view, create an enticing composition. The color scheme of the bathroom, faux Morrocan tiles, and an expressive couch inviting us to sit and relax, bring Matisse’s diverse interiors to mind.
In Kanishka Raja’s “Smooth Jazz”, we find an interior view of a large suburban den with hardwood floors, white dividers, an exposed ceiling, and a large gray stone wall. Within this vast space, a ping pong table,dumbbells, a chair, a couch, and a small colorful landscape attempt to define the resident's character. Here, the varying perspectives are subtle. With further attention, we discover that the roof, walls, and ceiling could not realistically define this space mathematically. Raja’s work alludes to Matisse's interiors, from a spacious, contemporary angle.
These painters, and other “faux naives” in this exhibition - through color, simplicity, geometric organization, and quiet, safe settings - ultimately relay that comfort and seclusion from societal ills is the name of the game.
"My Perspective: A Phenomenon of Faux Naive in Contemporary Painting" is on view until August 22nd at OSP Gallery, at 450 Harrison Ave., #304, Boston.
All images are courtesy of the artists and OSP Gallery.