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Press on Carolyn Case: Artforum, "Critics' Pick" by Andy M. Clark

Image: Carolyn Case, "Red Sink", 2021, oil on panel, 40" x 42".

Carolyn Case

1514 West Main Street
March 4–May 1, 2021

For the past six or so years, Carolyn Case’s maximalist paintings, while ostensibly nonmimetic, have been inhabited by an assortment of quotidian objects such as leaves, vases, and ruled notebook paper. The inclusion of such items speaks to Case’s omnivorous approach to content. Since the pandemic, Case’s subjects have become increasingly domestic—her kitchen and various chores, such as washing dishes after family meals, have served as the raw material for her most recent work, as exemplified by the four oils and eight pastels on view in the artist’s inaugural exhibition at this gallery.

In Red Sink (all works cited, 2021) abundant clusters of fulgent color oscillate between a legible depiction of the titular basin and its accoutrements—frying pan, spatula, spoon, soup ladle—and ebullient amalgams of chromatic goo. Like Paul Cézanne’s late explorations of Mont Sainte-Victoire, or Claude Monet’s twilit renderings of London’s Waterloo Bridge, no sooner does a discernible gestalt click into place than it evaporates like mist on a sultry morning. At the tableau’s center, frenetic swathes of pomegranate and orange give the impression that a pitcher of fruit punch has just shattered or a volcano violently erupted. The play of free association continues at the back of the gallery with Morning Dishes and Yellow Sink, two candy-colored pastel drawings whose enigmatically articulated crockery is ensnared by what appear to be octopus tentacles. Throughout this show, we sense the artist seeking a synergy between the truthful evocation of direct experience and chimerical invention.


— Andy Martinelli Clark