Lightning strikes twice: Melanie Authier at Georgia Scherman
Have a mentioned Melanie Authier? Oh, right, I did. Once, in passing. Maybe I wasn't sure a 29-year old painter was going to stick around. I'm glad to admit I'm wrong. Now a well-seasoned 30, Authier confirms the promise of her first show at Georgia Scherman last year with a bracing, robust suite of canvases that made me see abstraction at least a little afresh. Last year, Authier showed work next to such icons as Jack Bush, Harold Town and Joan Mitchell -- helpful references, I suppose, for a painter, like many, who tends to paint about painting -- but here she's in solo flight, and my feeling is she's much the better for it. It's almost like the training wheels have come off, and Authier's robust abstraction has a flirtatious, liberating glee.
While it's tipped heavily in the direction of the abstract, her terrain is an enigmatic borderland between that central concern and a vibrantly muddy representation, to my eye, of extreme fantasy landscapes that would have done Tolkien proud. The piece above is my favourite: A sort of wild earthiness that baits you into see something firmly terrestrial -- mountain? cliff? the Shire? -- but with precisely no resolution, and that irreconciliable tension is maybe it's central delectability (it helps that it's rawly gorgeous, too).
Authier leavens her abstract exuberance with perspectival techniques -- she inserts orthaganal forms or distinct, ribbon-like whorls, holistically painted into her tableaux, fiddling with your eye to create depth in the non-pictorial plane -- that keeps you off-balance, but most importantly, planted in the picture, in a captivating visual quest. Fun stuff. What will 31 bring?
Melanie Authier, The Ribbon and the Lightning Rod, continues at Georgia Scherman Projects, 133 Tecumseth, to Dec. 22.
Above, "Dead Letter Emblem," 2010.