2 September - 4 November 2017
Opening Friday, 1 September 2017, 6:00 pm
Excerpt from an Interview with Phong Bui in the Brooklyn Rail, 3 June 2016
With this particular one I started with a large, broken shape that functions like a structure. I started with blue—very slowly. Then, at some point, I worked with the palette knife to lay on different colors while making the drawing right on the surface, simultaneously. At the end of a painting the whole thing somehow pulls together. Also, the way I use paint now with a palette knife is a kind of drawing which functions like the skeleton of the painting. And the physical layering of paint on the surface makes the painting feel like it’s a physical object.
You use that same technique in other paintings as a way to interrupt or rupture the harmony of the structure.
Sometimes I’ll look at a painting, almost at the end, and say to myself, “What’s working here?”—whether the painting is too rigid or too pretty—“that I need to interrupt or ruin?”
Is the ultra-marine blue in oil?
Yes, it’s ultra-marine, but in Flashe paint. I’m sort of embarrassed to say that the blue is so Matisse-like that I feel uncool about it.
You should feel cool about your blue because Matisse was once asked why he used so much black in his paintings and responded that it was to cool down the blue. It’s interesting because blue is the hottest part of a flame, not the red.
That’s an interesting fact. Sometimes I have to hold myself back from using black because everything looks good with black. It’s very seductive.
In the interview with Jeremy Sigler you talked about how important the MoMA was to you as a kid.
Because I was such a miserable child, and an awkward teenager. I grew up in Westchester, in the suburbs of New York City, so it was easy to get to the city. The MoMA was my only savior.
It was your equivalent of the mall.
Yes! Everyone went to malls. I went to MoMA. I grew up there. Every Saturday, from the time I was twelve to the time I went to Bard College, I would go and sit at MoMA and draw in my little notebook. I don’t even know what I was doing there, maybe I wasn’t even looking, but something just sort of seeped in that became my backbone. Maybe it is the same for a lot of people. I think for many people it’s television or films or something else from their childhood that they internalize. I think for me it was Cubism and Surrealism and all of those things. Picasso and Miró, I think about Miró sometimes even more than Picasso. There’s part of me that’s still fighting that as well, because I certainly don’t want to be labeled. It’s important for me not to be labeled.
Excerpt from Roberta Smith in the New York Times, 3 June 2016, on Joanne Greenbaum's show at Rachel Uffner, New York
... Her latest canvases give new meaning to Harold Rosenberg’s characterization of Abstraction Expressionist painting as “an arena in which to act” by infusing it with high-low humor instead of macho angst. Up close, circuitries of exuberant lines and scrawls in pencil, crayon and marker course in and out of precarious edifices of high-wattage color that from a distance provide a semblance of order — but barely. The roles are not fixed. Ms. Greenbaum uses paint in graphic ways, dripping it in parallel lines, in some paintings, for example, creating fringelike areas or bead-curtain backgrounds. And her drawing often builds painterly steam; in the show’s largest painting, a big cloud of pink crayon rises amid a network of electric blue shapes that evoke an agitated Matisse cutout. ...
Excerpt from John Yau on Hyperallergic, 19 June 2016
... Greenbaum’s genius resides in her ability to bring all kinds of binaries into play, without making them look contrived, collaged or quotational. Everything plays off what’s around it. If you can imagine one half of a dancing duo doing the waltz, and the other doing the rumba, and the two of them twisting around each other like friendly snakes, then you get an idea of what Greenbaum can do in a painting.
Whereas her first ceramic sculptures might have seemed less interesting than the paintings she was doing at the same time, the recent one constitute a distinct body of work within her expanding oeuvre. While they are decidedly not vessel, some of them resemble a vintage planter trying to escape its identity. Greenbaum further complicates this by applying gouache, or ink, or marker, or crayon – usually only one – in ways that don’t correspond to the smooth folds, irregular strips, rectangular slabs, and jagged forms that she has put together. As with the paintings, Greenbaum collides things together – in this case, form and color – attaining a mysteriously melodious cacophony.
In many of Greenbaum’s works, one sees the seeds of something that could become either a style or a formula. There are characteristics that seem uniquely hers – the row of evenly spaced drips, or the use of paint and marker in the same composition. However, as the paintings and sculptures in this exhibition make evident, she is too restless and questioning to settle into a set of predictable moves. Moreover, she repeatedly proves that she will do anything to keep the party going, including interrupting or covering parts of it over. Of course, this is why parties can be so interesting, so full of life and anarchic energy: they are not well-oiled machines. Her unruliness connects her to the Abstract Expressionists, but, in her case, there isn’t any trace of nostalgia or melancholy. I wish I could say that I am amazed that no museum in America has given her an exhibition.