Natalie Frank & Rene Ricard “Who knows where the madness lies?”

Half Gallery

poster for Natalie Frank & Rene Ricard “Who knows where the madness lies?”

This event has ended.

Half Gallery presents a two-person exhibition with Natalie Frank and Rene Ricard.

Natalie Frank’s recent body of drawings, based on the beloved comic novel, Don Quixote, suggests an idiot hero for our time. Frank has worked over the past decade with unsanitized fairy tales and feminist texts, examining women’s roles in passing down tales originating in women’s oral and literary traditions. Quixote is Frank’s first body of work dealing with the male body. She locates timely concerns about toxic masculinity and a ruler run amok in fairy tale story of a hero, unmoored in his own delusion. Quixote commits physical violence, violates women, nuns, priests, confidantes and ultimately, in violating reality, destroys himself and his own world. In Frank’s 2018 exhibition with Half Gallery, she showed a body of drawings based on the sex-positive feminist book, the Story of O. Jillian Steinhauer wrote in The New York Times: Frank had transformed O into “a fairy tale of its own, replete with oddities and violence and transformation. By the look on her face, it often seems like O might be dreaming. That, Ms. Frank’s work suggests, is entirely the point.” In Quixote, Frank questions: can we still dream?

For over a decade, Frank has elevated marginalized women and marginalized female storytellers by giving voice to their narratives. Against an art history that has simplified and diminished women, she portrays the full spectrum of female desire, in drawings based on literary narrative, to provoke conversation about agency and imagination. Fairy tales captivated Frank because many began as women’s oral tales that articulated female desires and fears through a fabulist lens, yet over time their authorship was erased and their voices neutered. She restores the identities of these overlooked female artists and transforms their stories to create contemporary paradigm-breaking female heroines.

At first, Rene Ricard and Natalie Frank might seem an unlikely pairing. Yes, there is a reverence for paper as primary material although neither painter limits themselves to one medium. More than that, it’s the linkage they seek to establish between literature and painting which permeates both practices. Frank continually sheds light on controversial and classic tales bringing a new voice to the choir of artists and historians interpreting these stories. In the case of Don Quixote, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso have both firmly pressed their stamp on the collective conscious of readers around the world. Ricard, conversely, draws upon his own prose - isolating and elevating segments of text - in an effort to raise them towards the monumental. Like Christopher Wool’s text paintings we often forget that words read (but unuttered) operate at the speed of our inner dialogue, imbuing them with a unique velocity. Many of the paintings by Rene Ricard in this exhibition have yet to be shown publicly before and so a special thanks to artist Donald Baechler for his generous loan. A piece like “But the road that ought to have brought me home…was too long” is classic Ricard in its bittersweet acceptance and yet easily could slip from the mouth of our bedraggled protagonist in Don Quixote. We hope by contrasting the illusionistic and the tragically romantic both painters might be seen through a new prism.

In 1980 Dia Art Foundation released their first publication, Rene Ricard’s eponymously titled first volume of poems from 1979-80 with the iconic Tiffany blue cover. This was followed by two more poetry books, God with Revolver (1989) and Trusty Sarcophogus Co (1990). Ricard’s last publication was put out by Perceval Press in 2003, a full-colored monograph titled Paintings & Drawings. A handful of paintings in this book are featured in our exhibition, lent by Baechler. Beyond this, Ricard was a critic for ArtForum, the writer of the voice over for the film Basquiat by Julian Schnabel, and was featured in several of Andy Warhol’s short films such as Kitchen (1965) and Chelsea Girls (1966). Rene Ricard has been recently featured in group shows at Gagosian Gallery, New York; Blum and Poe, Los Angeles and the Flag Art Foundation, New York. This will be Ricard’s fifth exhibition with Half Gallery.

New York-based painter Natalie Frank was born in Austin, Texas in 1980. She earned an M.F.A. in visual arts at Columbia University’s School of the Arts in 2006 and holds a B.A. in studio art from Yale University. In 2003-2004, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for study at the National Academy of Fine Art in Oslo, Norway. In 2019-2020 Frank was awarded a Pollock Krasner Grant. In June 2021, Frank will have a drawing survey show, Unbound, at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, WI. This exhibition will present her drawings from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the Story of O and Madame D’Aulnoy, along with her four publications and video from the ballet, Grimm Tales. Selected museum exhibitions include; Brattleboro Museum of Art, Vermont (upcoming); Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH; Grinnell College Museum of Art (Faulconer Gallery), Grinnell, IA to name just a very few.

In 2015, Frank drew the Grimm’s Tales for an exhibition at The Drawing Center, New York, NY, and created a new genre of an art book and illustrated manuscript, interlacing full-page drawings with marginalia, translated stories by fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes, with essays, in Tales of the Brothers Grimm. Drawings by Natalie Frank, Damiani, 2015. Subsequent books include: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Princeton University Press, 2016; O, Lucia Marquand, 2018; and the forthcoming, Tales of Madame d’Aulnoy. Drawings by Natalie Frank, Princeton University Press, 2021. In 2019, a collaboration with Ballet Austin, for a full-length commissioned ballet based on Frank’s Grimm’s drawings, for which she served as artistic director, forged another new vehicle for her work.



from October 29, 2020 to November 21, 2020

Opening Reception on 2020-10-29 from 12:00 to 18:00

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