Just Painting

June 21-August 4, 2019

Mequitta Ahuja, Mike Cloud, Christhian Diaz, Louise Fishman,

Lee Lozano, Troy Michie, Anne Minich, Quentin Morris, Ruth Root,

Matthew Sepielli, Nancy Shaver, Henry Ossawa Tanner

curated by Ezra Tessler



New York Times

Contemporary Art Daily




There is a lot that painting cannot do. Yet this exhibition brings together paintings that aspire to do something even as they acknowledge their own limits.

The title “Just Painting” refers to the casual contingencies of a thing in the world, but also asks whether an object can have ethical qualities or aspirations. Can paintings be generous, selfish, humble, jealous, patient, greedy, or kind? How do they coexist with each other? What might they teach us about how to live together in the world?

For the artists in this exhibition, work and life—how they make, what they make, and how they live—are intimately connected. The what and how of the work is inherently linked to the why. On the surface, the works in these rooms are not marked by any particular taste or style: some are precise, others roughshod; a few are representational, many are abstract; most were made recently, though others are decades or over a century old. At stake, on the one hand, is the materiality of painting. On the other is the question of how to live.

Here, American identity is both a question and a statement. Some of these artists are expatriates, or formerly undocumented, or have worked in the same basement studio for five decades. In “Notes of a Native Son,” James Baldwin wrote, “I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much more than that. So are we all.” The meaning of a work is linked to the life it comes from and the life embedded in it, but identity is not a skeleton key.

The artists in this exhibition are all models of integrity and grit. Their work reflects earnest searching, but also radical self-questioning—to paraphrase Barbara Kruger, they are full of wishful thinking even as they know better. The work here makes modest claims and acknowledges its own limits. Yet in so doing, it maintains high aspirations.

These artists have chosen painting as their method of argumentation: the grounds on which they argue with themselves, with others, and with the world. Beginning in their studios, they build a vision of the world that they want to see and live in. After all, painting is both an object and an illusion. It can change the world even though it obviously can’t.




—Leah Pires and Ezra Tessler 

Just Painting
Ruth Root   Untitled,  2017 Fabric, plexiglass, enamel paint, spray paint 86 x 67.75 inches

Ruth Root
Untitled, 2017
Fabric, plexiglass, enamel paint, spray paint
86 x 67.75 inches

Just Painting
Mike Cloud   (Star) White Square,  2017 Oil on canvas 80 x 70 inches

Mike Cloud
(Star) White Square, 2017
Oil on canvas
80 x 70 inches

Just Painting
Just Painting
Install 16.jpg
Henry Ossawa Tanner    French Chateau- A Study,  c. 1912 Oil on board 12 x 10 inches

Henry Ossawa Tanner
French Chateau- A Study, c. 1912
Oil on board
12 x 10 inches

Troy Michie    Duncan’s Drapes,  2018 Paper, clothing, shoes, tape, acrylic on wood  36 x 24 x 2 inches

Troy Michie
Duncan’s Drapes, 2018
Paper, clothing, shoes, tape, acrylic on wood
36 x 24 x 2 inches

Just Painting
Install 2.jpg
Troy Michie   Amerikan Boogie,  2017 Wood, paper, magazine cut-outs, shoe and acrylic on clipboard 15 x 9 x 4 inches

Troy Michie
Amerikan Boogie, 2017
Wood, paper, magazine cut-outs, shoe and acrylic on clipboard
15 x 9 x 4 inches

Quentin Morris   Untitled (February 2019),  2019 Silkscreen ink and acrylic on canvas 72 inches in diameter

Quentin Morris
Untitled (February 2019), 2019
Silkscreen ink and acrylic on canvas
72 inches in diameter

Quentin Morris Detail
Just Painting
Anne Minich   Fall Landscape (Weehawken),  1994-1996 Oil on wood 22 x 17.25 inches

Anne Minich
Fall Landscape (Weehawken), 1994-1996
Oil on wood
22 x 17.25 inches

Just Painting
Christhian Diaz   Swath of Land (When the Land Was Fertile),  2019 Wet felted wool 20 x 27 inches

Christhian Diaz
Swath of Land (When the Land Was Fertile), 2019
Wet felted wool
20 x 27 inches

Just Painting
Mequitta Ahuja   Border Distilled,  2016 Oil on canvas 62 x 58 inches

Mequitta Ahuja
Border Distilled, 2016
Oil on canvas
62 x 58 inches

Henry Ossawa Tanner    Street Scene in Tangier #135,  c. 1910 Oil on canvas 16 x 12 inches

Henry Ossawa Tanner
Street Scene in Tangier #135, c. 1910
Oil on canvas
16 x 12 inches

Just Painting at Jack Barrett
Louise Fishman   Untitled,  1994 Oil, aluminum, wire, staples and glue on canvas 8 x 10 inches

Louise Fishman
Untitled, 1994
Oil, aluminum, wire, staples and glue on canvas
8 x 10 inches

Louise Fishman   Untitled,  1994 Acrylic paint, pencil, leather on cardboard, staples 5.5 x 3.75 x .25 inches

Louise Fishman
Untitled, 1994
Acrylic paint, pencil, leather on cardboard, staples
5.5 x 3.75 x .25 inches

Louise Fishman   Untitled,  2008 Acrylic on aluminum sheet, staple, paper 4 x 3 x 3 inches

Louise Fishman
Untitled, 2008
Acrylic on aluminum sheet, staple, paper
4 x 3 x 3 inches

Just Painting Lee Lozano
Leo Lozano   Untitled,  1962 Oil on canvas 31.75 x 35.75 inches

Leo Lozano
Untitled, 1962
Oil on canvas
31.75 x 35.75 inches

Just Painting
Matthew Sepielli   Little Light,  2019 Oil on linen 10 x 8 inches

Matthew Sepielli
Little Light, 2019
Oil on linen
10 x 8 inches

Matthew Sepielli    Grey Tree Limbs,  2019 Oil on linen 10 x 8 inches

Matthew Sepielli
Grey Tree Limbs, 2019
Oil on linen
10 x 8 inches

Anne Minich   Touch/Touch,  2014 Oil on wood with shells and found object 25.75 x 25.75 inches

Anne Minich
Touch/Touch, 2014
Oil on wood with shells and found object
25.75 x 25.75 inches

Nancy Shaver   Crooked Box, White Curve  2006 Wooden box, cardboard boxes, flash acrylic, houseplant 9 x 13 x 6 inches

Nancy Shaver
Crooked Box, White Curve 2006
Wooden box, cardboard boxes, flash acrylic, houseplant
9 x 13 x 6 inches