Two solo shows opened at Long Island City’s Jeffrey Leder Gallery last Sunday, March 18: “painterly” works by artists Ellen Schneiderman and Brandon Friend, who occupy one floor each of the gallery, a brownstone on 45th Road.
The works are “painterly” because they aren’t strictly paintings per se, as gallery owner Jeffrey Leder explained.
“They’re really collages,” Leder said. “But the sense of them is that they’re paintings.”
Both artists’ works have a textural quality to them, the result of different approaches to applying layers of paint or other materials to thick panels as opposed to canvas. But while Schneiderman’s pieces are largely abstract — though they do sometimes conjure caves or other rock formations — Friend’s are firmly rooted in the figural.
His works, on the gallery’s second floor, are almost entirely focused on a single figure, a police officer in riot gear he calls the “Defender.” Friend reproduces this figure again and again, standing alone in pieces of varying sizes, using a technique he calls “imprinting.”
Combining printmaking and image transferring, the process involves taking materials such as newspaper clippings, digital photos and pieces of carton, pressing them down on a panel covered in clear acrylic, and removing them to leave an imprint behind.
Friend’s mastery of the process is evident, as is his command of color. Each piece in the Jeffrey Leder show has a Seurat-like effect — the individual color blocks in varying pastels, produced from the layers of imprinting, meld to create distinct figures and scenes.
At the opening, Friend explained that he started making the Defender series immediately after the BP oil spill in the spring of 2010, and was further inspired by the Greek riots that spring and summer.
With the Occupy protests and further Greek riots since, the riot police are “figures that have come into the public eye,” Friend explained, and through the media have “sort of become the villains.” But Friend said he wasn’t trying to present a didactically negative view of them, as evidenced in his piece “Precipice,” which seemingly depicts a protest, though it’s not entirely clear which figures in the scene are the police and which are the protesters.
“It’s more for viewers to have a dialogue with,” Friend said of his works.
Downstairs, Schneiderman’s more than 20 explorations of materials and texture, many of them in black and white, were almost all created over the course of a productive eight or nine months, she explained.
Like Friend’s works, taken from afar the technique that produced them is nearly invisible, but on closer inspection, a swirl of purple across the panel of “Shroud” (2011), for example, is revealed to be the product of tiny circles drawn in ink. All of Schneiderman’s works on display involve a combination of graphite, ink, watercolor, acrylic or gouache.
Schneiderman and Friend once shared a studio together in Long Island City, and Schneiderman said she considers their dual show a success.
“I like the way our work is talking to each other,” she said. The crowd seemed to agree: several of Schneiderman’s pieces had already sold before the closing.
“I can buy new art supplies,” she said laughing.
Leder said his goal with previous dual solo shows and this one is to feature art at affordable prices, in the $1,000 to $2,000 range, by honing in on emerging artists whose work can offer a “great value.”
When: Through April 8 Wed.-Sun., noon-6 p.m.
Where: 21-37 45 Rd., Long Island City
More info: (917) 767-1734/jeffreyledergallery.com