Second Impressions: Amy Feldman

First impressions are not always accurate representations. At first glance, Amy Feldman’s paintings appear juvenile, quickly executed and rarely thought through. But with the second glance, one realizes that their first impression was wrong; her paintings are filled with a whimsical energy that engulfs you, and are carefully created through repeated acute gestures.

The simple abstraction of these paintings bring a calming simplicity into the art world. The gray paint which covers her white canvases, is the work of quick, but intentionally placed brushstrokes that are rooted in the present moment. Each canvas is a live performance, presenting a quickness that can be seen in each gestural stroke. Each canvas consists of multiple layers of shapes and marks that collide into a final unrecognizable abstract form.

Felman thinks of her paintings as being like jokes told by stand up comedians–you have one shot, and you better make sure that one shot is good.

“Risk and anxiety are important. I want to communicate a clear urgency and the work must feel immediate and direct.” Taking risks is important. They allow you to jump head first into a situation, to throw yourself into the work and to not look back, giving everything you have to the integrity of the work. 

Risk and comedy are the inspiration of Feldman’s pieces. The risk being the quick nature of her pieces, working immediately and directly; there is no going back. The comedy being the repeated cartoonish shapes that allow you to fill in the negative spaces with identifying features. The forms are each almost something, but are incomplete. Feldman gives you enough information to allow her works to coalesce into a significant form, and allows you to finish the painting for her, filling in the information that you see fit. 

“I intentionally inject humor into my work. I don’t think of it as a byproduct because I’m conscious of it. The cartooned forms and lightheartedness in the way that I handle paint counterbalances the gray palette and monumental presence of the paintings. I title every work carefully.”

The titles of her pieces further this humorous effect. Each title a punchline in itself, challenging you to think about what exactly you are looking at. But in reality, those lines are just lines and titles don’t always correspond with images. 

“Sometimes I think my paintings are like big headlines, each one a container for its own bit of information. They are pretty direct, printed in boldface, per se, but also quiet and loaded. As pictures, they function singularly, but if you see enough of them you’ll get more of the whole story–it’s a sincere tale, but a parody at the same time, one that chronicles my tragic and comic love affair with painting.”

All artwork copyright the artist. Learn more: Amy Feldman.

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