Text and photos by Clare Gemima
There's the Air,
Derek Eller Gallery, 300 Broome St.
Clare Grill delivers a deeply woven sadness through the formation of beautifully crafted oil paintings in her show There's the Air.
The work is fragile and joyful, fast but considerate, and made me feel instantly calm even amongst Grill's vast range of strokes covering each and every inch of her canvas.
Grief weighs heavily in the narrative that informs Grill's paintings, and when you look closely at the named work you can find hidden forms like boots and brown bananas in Gull and adolescent-looking butterflies flying around in Emaline (oil on paper).
When I read more about how this artist works and what she aims to communicate through her work, I actually began to notice more recognizable illustrations that were child-like, or even infantile in nature.
Abstraction is so rampant in Grill’s works that once you process her sensibility around color, shape and composition and start to see shapes like the ones I mentioned above, it feels as though you've been captured in her own sorrow.
You can feel the work change after a while of contemplating it. It makes sense to learn that these works were made while the artist experienced what I can only imagine being intensive sadness.
Grill can work on a piece for months or even years before the painting is given a name. So while this show centers around grief, a newness comes from these paintings' existence. Once named, they are almost like the gift of a child. The light at the end of a tunnel, or some other terrible cliche grief quote.
Grill's works are full of texture and incredibly satisfying renderings of shadows and light sources. Colors vary in hues and opacities and showcase an exorbitant talent for abstract painting.
Although fun and unruly at first glance, this body of work is actually dealing with a lot of serious stuff — a true testament to an effective and thought-provoking show.
There's the Air is on view at Derek Eller Gallery, 300 Broome St. between Eldridge and Forsyth, until April 24. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and by appointment.
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Clare Gemima is a visual artist from New Zealand. New-ish to the East Village, she spends her time as an artist assistant and gallery go-er, hungry to explore what's happening in her local art world. You can find her work here: claregemima.com