Kate Manheim, whose legendary stage performances epitomized the explosive creativity and often rancorous aesthetic experimentation of New York’s downtown scene of the 1970s and ’80s, has also created a moving body of work as a visual artist. Her modestly scaled paintings and collages on cardboard scraps, produced in the mid-1990s, have all of the psychological complexity that characterized her work with Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater company and her collaborations with avant-garde filmmaker Jack Smith. Yet Manheim’s visual art is saturated with color and feels, somehow, free: in several pieces, bodies appear to prance in bright domestic settings erupting with flowers. The 50 works on display here depict a world of pleasure and sexual liberation, although one occasionally punctuated by primal screams. As composer John Zorn once wrote, Manheim’s paintings “speak to the human psyche directly in languages both angelic and demonic.”
Pictured: Kate Manheim: â?¨Self portrait of the artist with sinus trouble, 1988-89, â?¨mixed media on paper,â?¨ 12½ by 16½ inches.