Vicki Sher | Beside Myself

27 Apr - 7 Jun 2020

Tayloe Piggott Gallery is pleased to present Beside Myself, a series of new acrylic paintings by artist Vicki Sher. On a surface specially primed to leave the raw tone of the natural canvas, layers of translucent washes and opaque color build in depth and tone, ultimately revealing vivid geometries of paint. Beside Myself celebrates the unique language of painting, investigates the emotive qualities of color, and pays homage to the artistic process.

“These paintings are made because I want them to exist and visually, I want to see beautiful things. They use shapes that imply botanical forms, landscape, and Nature, but they are nothing like Nature. They come from a different place than reality, somewhere else, from somewhere beside myself,” Sher says. The artist distills organic, botanical forms into pure color panes, reveling in the interplay between the neutral tones of the raw canvas and her unique use of pigment.

The work evolves intuitively in the studio. “I make paintings as I imagine one would make music, layering melodies and harmonizing, to elicit a feeling of connection to something outside of circumstance. I begin with color, form, and botanical shapes and lines. My concerns are tactile and emotional.” Working with her canvas on the floor, Sher manages to combine luminous, floating Morris Louis-looking washes with dense, hard-edge shapes in primary hues in the same composition without losing a beat. “It’s very much about something being right visually, and tactilely… the decisions are being made in a very inarticulate way,” she says. Color, form, and quality of paint drive those decisions, but ultimately, as she puts it, the work boils down to “all the different things that these stacks of color can do.”

References to post-painterly movements of the last century abound but are refreshed: color field and hard-edge merge with a Milton Avery palette here, a Fauve explosion there. She cites contemporaries Amy Sillman and Marina Adams as colorists whose work speaks to her. Still, painting has become a personal journey toward what she wants to look at, what she finds beautiful. “A lot of women artists in their fifties (which I am) that I have talked to reach a certain point in their work where they start to say, ‘I finally decided I wanted to do what I have been meaning or what I was meant to do.’ Or that, ‘I allowed myself to do what I’ve always wanted to do.’ Kind of this idea that the color and prettiness and the beauty were something we were resisting doing before, and it’s time to stop resisting.”

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1966, Vicki Sher received her BFA from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY and her MFA from the University of Iowa. Her work has been exhibited at public institutions including the Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, PA and The Phillips Museum at Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA. She is the recent recipient of a MacDowell Colony Fellowship award and a VCCA Fellowship award. She has participated in numerous art fairs worldwide, including VOLTA Basel, NADA and PULSE. The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.