Posts Tagged ‘Lily van der Stokker’

I Feel Pretty Ugly

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Lily van der Stokker, Artwork, 2010

Is it the Mary Heilmann effect? At least three middle-aged women artists known for bold color are currently brightening up bleached Chelsea galleries. They also are reigniting their careers with a departure from or return to the galleries that represented them for ten years or longer.

Ugo Rondinone, Hell, Yes!, 2001 on the New Museum

Returning to D’Amelio Terras, Polly Apfelbaum (b. 1955) reprises her synthetic sequin scatter sculptures, in which random polygons (Polly-gons?) are cut from the material and arranged on the floor. She built the piece in the gallery, cut by cut, and viewers are welcome to tip-toe through the remaining floor space. It’s a mind-body problem. Our eyes track the brightly colored fields of shining color, while our bodies maneuver the angled corridors leftover.

Polly Apfelbaum, Off Colour, 2010

Back in the arms of the lovely ladies at 303 Gallery after an affair with David Zwirner, Sue Williams (b. 1954) plunges us back to 1995-6, the period most of this suffocating work was made. Her imagery expresses a resentment of masculine authority, while also desperately devouring its phallic positivism. Can’t live with it; can’t live without it. She brings us back to 2010 a few times with new paintings, such as War of the Testicles, in which abstraction and scrota (and their contents) merge into amalgamated pockets of jittery, varicose striae.

Sue Williams, War of the Testicles, 2010

Sue Williams, Eggs, 1992

The most electric of these is Terrible and Ugly, Lily van der Stokker’s first NYC show since 2004, and the first at her new gallery, Leo Koenig.

Lily van der Stokker, Whoopy I Am Ugly, 2010

As seen in a recent, major show at the Tate St. Ives, Lily van der Stokker’s murals and drawings provide the critical viewer a chance to freely indulge in banal adjectives that usually sound derogatory. Her work is resolutely cute, decorative, happy, simple, fun, stupid, and meaningless. “Oh, that hurts so good! Say it again!” All of those terms are accurate, in a good way.

Lily van der Stokker, Whoopy I Am Ugly (detail), 2010

An intellectual engagement could describe her work as a revision of Sol Lewitt through menarche and cartoons; or – less utopian – middle school identity and Prozac.

Lily van der Stokker, Niet zo mooi, best wel lelijk, 2009 - "Not so pretty, pretty ugly"

David Horvath and Suan-Min Kim, Ugly Dolls

A more populist experience, however, would rejoice in the uninhibited colors and comic amoeba shapes. The cone-cooking yellows are so bright that the surrounding bare white walls seem to turn purply-gray. The heaps of unblemished color and pyjama pattern are appended with syrupy drips, wiggling protuberances, and caffeinated vacuoles. It’s ecstatic!

Lily van der Stokker, Not So Nice, 2010

Each mural, which you can buy and have hand-painted at home, feels less like an object and more like an amorphous station; compare sitting in a stiff chair (Lewitt) with a pile of clean laundry still warm from the dryer (van der Stokker). Indeed, the rugs and padded chairs inspire reclining, and each of the planted murals is a Pop hearth. To warm you even further, there is Useless Movement, where the crescent painting and radiating tendrils of the custom carpet begin to resemble a sunset over the ocean.

Lily van der Stokker, Useless Movement, 2010