I first noticed Elizabeth Neel when I randomly came across American Standard (2009), which title quite contrasts with the still-life theme and the brisk execution. I checked out more of her work and was happy to discover an artist whose approach oscillating between figuration and abstraction corresponds to what holds my steady interest in painting.
ID: Elizabeth Neel is American. Born in 1972. Lives and works in New York.
Style: Gestual brushwork. Reminiscent of early-1950s New York action painting: violent and energetic mark-making, on a variety of surfaces, ranging from thickly plopped-on and opaque paint to thin transparent washes. She manages to achieve clarity through spiral forms and colour. She uses this technique to reveal images gleaned on the Internet.
History of painting approach: Through a technique swaying between abstraction and figuration, she allows herself to paint figuratively to allow herself to paint abstractly. Or vice-versa.
Neel’s works evoke the affecting tradition of vanitas painting.
Influences: Could be Cecily Brown who paved the way for artists born in the mid-to-late 1970s to chose to take up the violent brushstrokes connected to action painting’s macho past. Although Elizabeth Neel avoid explicit depictions of sex. Her paintings are more breathing as she only fills her canvas with the necessary layers of paint.
Quote: “Every painting I make is a reference to every painting made before”, says Neel.
2005, Klemens Gasser and Tanja Grunert, Inc., New York
2008, Deitch Projects, New York
2009, Monica De Cardenas Galleria, Milan