The dark days of February are soon to be brightened by Julian Schnabel: New Plate Paintings at Pace Gallery on New York’s West 25th Street, running from Friday 24 February until Saturday March 25. Inspired by the wild roses growing in the cemetery near Vincent van Gogh’s grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, just outside Paris, the 13 works (from $450,000) in the show are alive with brilliant hues of fuchsia and green, each painted on an unconventional yet highly vivid surface of broken plates and wood.
“The fragments and colours make it feel like they’re made of leaves and that you’re not looking at a painting but at nature,” says Schnabel. “Yet as soon as you step back from them, they assume a pictorial quality.”
The exhibition marks a return to Schnabel’s roots after a decade-long detour into filmmaking that included the 2007 Oscar-nominated The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The large-scale portraits measuring 1.8m x 1.5m (“small for Julian,” says Pace Gallery president Marc Glimcher) and 3m x 2.4m landscapes that command an entire room revisit his mixed-media plate paintings of the late 1970s that featured broken ceramic shards, thick impasto pigment and putty. “I wanted to make something that was exploding as much as I wanted to make something that was cohesive,” Schnabel said at the time.
These new Rose Paintings combine a natural state of chaos – collages of twisting vines, floating petals and a sea of leaves beneath – with a brief but satisfying detour to the village in the French countryside that van Gogh called home. For Glimcher – whose gallery first showed Schnabel’s work in 1984 – they are particularly moving.
“Julian is one of the seminal artists of the 20th century, and he was a huge force for change in the 1980s and ’90s,” adds Glimcher. “And although he has been out of the spotlight for a number of years, people recognise him as a truly great artist who is rising again.”
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