Nicole Gunning - John Blee - DECEMBER 2015
Nicole Gunning- “The Nickie Warriors” Sculpture
John Blee - “The Orchard Suite” Paintings
… & “In the kitchen”: Catherine White - Ceramics
On view through the end of January 2016.
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present Nicole Gunning’s new suite of life-sized ceramic figures, “The Nickie Warriors”. Gunning has created her own powerful terra cotta army of “Nickies” that evoke the Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors buried with the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. These voluptuous full-scale standing figures are self-portraits of the artist, proudly confronting the world with an unflinching attitude. Even without heads, these “Nickies” face their audience assertively with an unspoken reproach for the expectation of the typical ideal female form. Gunning, whose work we introduced to the DC community after her graduation from the Corcoran last May, is back in our gallery for her first one-person show. She fills the front gallery space with variations on her theme, experimenting with colored glazes and new surfaces while producing new “Nickies” made with a high-fire clay body that can withstand the elements outdoors. These “Nickies” will be lasting warriors or sentinels in a garden setting protecting their modern day urban emperors.
As a counterpoint to our youngest artist, we also present the exceptional paintings of long-time Washington artist, John Blee. Blee, whose widely collected works are included in august institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and LACMA. He is a fixture as an artist and art critic in the DC art community and his paintings have been well known to all of the city’s art connoisseurs since the 70’s. He studied with Frankenthatler and has taken the lessons of her fluid color field paintings to heart – but Blee isn’t content with shallow stains, instead he gives us the raw power of his saturated, layered, thick, luscious, polychrome paint. His early formative days as a child in India, opened his eyes to the dazzling quality of light, and he imports that energetic aesthetic in every canvas. These “Orchard Suite” paintings make a beautiful backdrop to the youthful exuberance of Nicole Gunning’s warrior women.
Catherine White graces us this season with her exquisite collection of functional ceramics. We inaugurate our “In the kitchen” back room gallery program with one of the area’s most accomplished artists working in clay today. For over 30 years this ceramicist has been unloading her kilns to the delight of audiences who appreciate her sophisticated art of the hand-made.