Archive for April, 2024

Raymond Han

White and Lavendar Phlox with Michelangelo’s Infant, 1998, oil on canvas, 52″ x 52″

A new Old Master

La Coiffe Bleue, oil on wood, 20 x 20

Anne-Christine Roda’s portraits, mostly of her daughter, are a must-see for anyone in New York City during these last seven days of her solo show at Arcadia Contemporary in SoHo. I was impressed with her work in the digital catalog emailed out before the show opened, but there’s little comparison between the albeit excellent photography and the presence of the work itself. In a quick visit to the gallery yesterday, I was astonished and moved by the immense discipline brought to these paintings.

They are good on every level: technical skill, the quality of the paint surface, the intensely personal and unpretentious relationship with her sitter, and the almost monastic simplicity and austerity of the information each painting conveys. The title of the show, Les Silencieuses, conveys the aura of Roda’s work: it’s all signal, no noise, and it’s a precise, narrow bandwidth of signal at that. The peak and trough of her wavelength are shaped at one extreme by the spiritual, protective quality of her care for her daughter embodied in these paintings, and the contrary sense that this young woman is on the threshold of what is inevitably a wildly unpredictable adulthood. This young woman is an icon of purity and vulnerability, her image indelible and protected by its frame, though the actual sitter, the living human being, will find nothing equivalent to that safety in the world.

To say the work is hyper-realistic is almost an understatement, but also misleading. Her inspiration comes from the Old Masters with their dark baroque backgrounds and almost somber moods: intentionally or not, Zurburan looms large here, but the finish she brings to each painting compares as well with Rembrandt and Van Dyke. Her surface has a smoother finish than much work by the Old Masters, closer to the uniform absence of brushwork one sees throughout hyper-realism, but while her edges can be distinct and precise, there’s an unaccountable softness in the light and the texture, even the skin of a leg or arm. The feel she brings to her paint handling mysteriously remains sensuous and incredibly supple, even with such little evidence of her brush: her tones are impossible to describe in some places, the shadow on the back of a hand, the color of the creases in a knuckle, seeming to effectively blend every possible hue while representing the absence of color. I would think her achievement with these paintings MORE

Amy Weiskopf

Still Life with White Eggplants and Radicchio, 2011, oil on linen, 16″ x 26″