Lucid Culture


Art Review: Andrea Cukier in Midtown

Shows like this are why we live in New York. This is someone who will be creating important and emotionally impactful art for a long time, the rare artist whose work will send you flying out into the street afterward with an elevated pulse and renewed passion for being alive. Argentinian expat Andrea Cukier’s work is defined by subtlety, yet packs a potently visceral intensity. To say that her collection of nebulous yet riveting oil paintings – on display at the Consulate General of Argentina through April 30- is captivating is the understatement of the year. Many of these works are pensive and stark, yet rich with emotion and sometimes longing. The artist has a special affinity for the port of Buenos Aires, several views of which are featured in this show.

Cukier’s unique vision makes liberal use of lush textures, subtle earthtone shades over a signature grey background. Another of her signature devices is to situate her point of view looking in from the shadows or somewhere hidden, whether it’s from behind clouds or in a thicket. At its best, Cukier’s work is quietly transcendent. When these paintings are representational – not all of them are – the view is jaggedly hazy, out of focus. Her clouds are thick with shades of white and grey, rather than opaque: they get in the way, or provide concealment. Ships’ masts rise, thin and frail, through the mists concealing what’s below. Vertical and horizontal lines snake their way through washes of shadow: is it barbwire, or the view of a town along the shoreline? Cukier has stated that she wants the viewer to be able to feel the humidity and the smell of the water, a goal whose ambitiousness is not as farfetched as it might seem (New York artist Pamela Talese does the same thing with brutal New York summer heat in her landscapes of industrial wastelands). It is impossible not to be drawn into the remarkable depth of these paintings, with their seemingly endless layers and minute variances of shade. In the distance, barely discernible, the ghost of Turner nods approvingly.

Overall, what is most impressive about this show is that as good it is, this isn’t even her best work – wait til you see what’s on her website. An appropriate soundtrack would be the eerie ambience of Jehan Alain or Radiohead. Or A Salty Dog by Procol Harum, at leat as far as the harborscapes are concerned.

Cukier also has a series of green-themed, Chinese-inspired watercolors here, mostly pondscapes, seemingly painted by an entirely different artist – they have absolutely no resemblance to her oils. While demonstrating a good eye for light and reflection and an ability to assimilate a very stylized technique (which also calls on the viewer to feel the heat and humidity), it’s been done before and just as well many dynasties ago.

At the Consulate General of Argentina, 12 W 56th St. through April 30, free admission Mon-Fri, 11 AM – 5 PM.


April 11, 2008 - Posted by | Art, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , ,

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