April 8, 2022 - June 18, 2022
“[For] fifteen years, I have intently watched [the] daily life of plants and animals in both the forests and the fields… Bits and pieces of specially observed things begin to represent the whole, and juxtapositions of real things make imaginary combinations. Combinations are open and ambiguous to interpretation, so that the viewer may wander in the same state of grace as the painter.” – Evelyn Statsinger
GRAY presents the work of American artist Evelyn Statsinger (1927-2016) in the solo exhibition, Currents. Curated by New York-based writer and curator Dan Nadel, Currents features Statsinger’s paintings and drawings from the 1980s and 90s, a period in which she developed her most immersive and otherworldly compositions. The exhibition opens at GRAY New York with a public reception on Friday, April 8, from 6-8 PM, and will be on view through June 18, 2022.
Evelyn Statsinger was an artist deeply informed by her impressions of the natural world. Born in Brooklyn in 1927, Statsinger relocated to Chicago in the 1940s to attend the School of the Art Institute. During this time, Statsinger became acquainted with a group of artists known as the Monster Roster and received mentorship and support from notable Chicago figures including Katherine Kuh, Kathleen Blackshear, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. In the years that followed, Statsinger began to develop her own unique visual language, relinquishing identifiable forms in favor of surreal compositions based on her observations in nature.
In 1972, Statsinger moved her Chicago studio to a rural 1890s schoolhouse in Allegan, Michigan. The remote property, nestled within the sand dunes and woodlands on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, served as the artist’s home base and allowed Statsinger to closely observe nature in all its orders of magnitude. “When Statsinger would return to downtown Chicago, she imported the outdoors to the city by bringing with her those specially observed bits of matter,” curator Dan Nadel reflects in his essay for the exhibition. “She collected seed pods, shells, twigs, leaves, and stones, which she arranged carefully in her studio. She could go macro or micro with these specimens—making them a subject or finding new details within them.”
At times mysterious, and eluding definitive classification, Statsinger’s intricate compositions describe vast, ethereal worlds that evoke the biological systems and cellular structures of plants as if viewed under a microscope. As art historian Dennis Adrian observed, “The forms which the artist favors often seem drawn from microscopic plant life, the exotic fauna of the sea or from the layered and crystalline structures of the earth itself. Statsinger’s subtle and reverberating colors make ingenious use of unexpected complements and harmonic arrangements in a way that brings to mind the marvelous chromatics of odd biological specimens or rare minerals.”