The “hell bitch” in Rosy Keyser’s title, as the Kay Ryan poem in the show’s press release suggests, is art itself. True to form, Keyser defiantly doubles down on passion, on the idea that making art is hand-to-hand combat with a muse she may dominate but will never satisfy.
The 13 wall pieces in this show fell into three categories: Large-format mixed-media works reprised Rauschenberg’s Combines by mixing found objects and paint in seemingly chaotic collages. Music for a Drowned World (2015) is a silent symphony of string that ensnares viewers like a mute siren’s song. The second group comprised more painterly pieces, also in large format. These attenuated the precarious nature of the large combines and, as in Early Magic (2015), linked Keyser to her Abstract Expressionist forebears. The third group consisted of smaller works that miraculously compressed all of Keyser’s titanic energy.
Animal Fruit (2014), at a mere 30 by 26 inches, contained all the power of Keyser’s signature large-scale efforts. Her method was identical to that used in the other pieces here: She began with a frame, her initial appropriation of space. Within that rectangle, she let all hell break loose, and the red blood of Keyser’s struggle with her medium flowed freely. Elements tried to escape, but Keyser rules with an iron hand. She’s never been as wildly disciplined as she was in this magnificent show.
A version of this story originally appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 90.