Gloria Garfinkel “Secrets”

A.I.R. Gallery

poster for Gloria Garfinkel “Secrets”
[Image: Gloria Garfinkel "Secrets 6 (Government)" (2004) Oil on linen with mixed media, 65 x 50 in. Collection: Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee, WI. Photo: Adam Reich.]

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Curated by Mara Williams

A.I.R. Gallery presents Secrets, an exhibition of mixed media paintings by Gloria Garfinkel. Curated by Mara Williams, Chief Curator of the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, this is Garfinkel’s first solo exhibition in New York City since 2016.

Secrets presents six large-scale works created by the artist in 2004. The artworks on display appear uniform and two-dimensional upon first glance—large red canvases marked by two small geometric forms boldly painted with bright stripes. The word “secret” is meticulously stenciled over-and-over on the entirety of the red surface. Closer inspection, however, reveals the paintings’ striped shapes to be hinged doors, fitted to the canvas, hiding assemblage shadow boxes beneath the surface of the painting.

Intended to be opened by the viewer, each door reveals a distinct cubby of curiosities containing complex arrangements of found objects that relate thematically to the artworks’ subtitles— Plan C, Religion, Brain, Beauty, Vice, and Government. Lined with handwritten texts and composed of treasures ranging from birth control and hypodermic needles to deity trinkets and family photos, the cubbies incorporate biographical information with didactic arrangements to create cleverly curated narratives for the viewer to decipher.

Their intricacy produces in the viewer a strong desire to learn about the subjectivity of the artist, but Garfinkel has made allusivity part of the allure. Instead, we’re left with a sense of connectivity with previous generations and a mutual appreciation for the things we mask. By mixing formal painting techniques and color theory with the anti-aestheticism of assemblage, Garfinkel has engendered her own original style incorporating cast-off and discarded artifacts to explore a playful, complicated, and elusive past.

92-year-old, New York-based Gloria Garfinkel has been an artist for almost seventy years. Her vibrant abstract work draws inspiration from her extensive international travel and her keen interest in science. Over the last seven decades, these experiences and interests have furthered her experimentation in color relationships and juxtapositions of textures and patterns reflected in her prints, paintings, movable sculpture, sculptural maquettes, and handmade books.

Garfinkel has presented solo exhibitions at the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, Ella Sharp Museum, and Anderson Center for The Arts. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, De Cordova Museum, and Brattleboro Museum, among others.

Her work is in the permanent collections of the New York Public Library, The Albright-Knox Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Haggerty Museum, and more. In 2019, a career monograph Gloria Garfinkel: Works 1961-2018 was published featuring essays by Dore Ashton, Robert Ayers, and Andrew Kelly.

Garfinkel attended the Fashion Institute of Technology from 1947-1949, followed by subsidiary studies at New York University and the Arts Student League of New York.



from November 19, 2021 to December 19, 2021

Opening Reception on 2021-11-19 from 12:00 to 18:00

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