Mounted in the Whitney’s lobby gallery, “Flatlands” demonstrates the museum’s continued commitment to showcasing emerging artists. Organized by assistant curators Laura Phipps and Elisabeth Sherman, the exhibition includes works by Nina Chanel Abney, Mathew Cerletty, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Caitlin Keogh and Orion Martin. The canvases included point to the recent painting trend toward flat pictorial spaces populated with representational elements. Far from simple imagery, however, the objects rendered include bizarre twists and delight in trompe l’oeil. In Martin’s Bakers Steak (2015), for example, a green, mid-century table lamp floats on a flat olive ground. Small black holes that resemble monocles laid on top of the lamp spew elegant white and yellow flowers. One Keogh work depicts a Venus de Milo-like torso (as it is now, sans head or arms) bedecked with gold chains and a braided rope. Most striking is the addition of the sculpture’s Pepto-pink intestines. The works here function supremely as images, but still suggest that the young painters have more growing to do.
Pictured: Orion Martin: Bakers Steak, 2015, oil on canvas, 51½ by 35 ½ inches. Courtesy the artist and Bodega, New York.