The Majestic Theatre Condominium Association
Refracted Reality: Paintings by Michael Steinbrick
March 3rd 2017 – June 25th 2017
Opening Reception: Friday March 3rd 6-8pm
The Majestic Theatre Condominiums
222 Montgomery Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
SILVERMAN and The Majestic Theatre Condominium Association presents: Refracted Reality: Paintings by Michael Steinbrick, curated by Enrico Gomez
Michael Steinbrick is an emerging artist in the Photorealist painting tradition. Offering works from his New York Stories and New York Reflections Series, Mr. Steinbrick engages the viewer with large-scale painted fragments of the urban landscape; at once as recognizably familiar and specifically unique as the ever changing moments in New York City life. The genre of Photorealism emerged as an extension of the interest in Pop Art and in some ways, as a rebuttal to the tenets of Abstract Expressionism, the prevailing esoteric norm within painting at that time. Artist champions of Photorealism used photography as a collaborative tool in the creation of their dazzling works. What emerged was something greater than mere documentation (which, of course, was no longer needed due to the supremacy of the camera for these purposes). No, what artists like Audrey Flack, Richard Estes, and Chuck Close brought through the genre of Photorealism was a sort of presaging of the digital age, wherein visual and other information is routinely reduced and broken down into it’s primary components, and then reassembled along systemic and ofttimes arbitrary lines. Bits of visual data fill the painted frame, evincing a Pollock-like proclivity toward teeming, all over compositions, yet retaining space for artistic license and aesthetic agency.
It is in this strong yet composed sense of directorial decision making that we begin to identify the keen hand and heightened sensibilities of painter Michael Steinbrick. In his New York Reflections Series, we witness dense tableaus from Manhattan’s Times Square and Midtown neighborhoods. Vehicular clusters and pedestrians pepper the scenes amidst the canyon walls of a gleaming city. The series is rife with visual stimulus and reflected light, a progression of generous works that reward the patient viewer by evolving and slowly revealing their many gem-like peculiarities. Seemingly random echoes between the similar colors of billboards and the traffic below, for example, highlight certain formal strategies. In Steinbrick’s created world, a golden sunset is received and repeated against the darkening façade of city streets, messages blared from electronic billboards find clever rebuttals from the chance configurations of the humans beneath them.
One of the artist’s stated goals when composing these paintings is to remain open and receptive to the chance and “coincidental” aspects of their constructions; happy accidents and juxtapositions that are perhaps vibrational cues and, in the artists words, “… symbolism, orchestrated on a higher level of consciousness.” Steinbrick begins with a number of on-site observations and intuitive photographic documentation, availing himself to the additional or third “eye” of the camera and it’s unique contribution to the recorded scene. The conflation of these elements on canvas is then a sensitive process of translation into paint via hand and eye cooperation, instinct, judgment and personal flair.
The notion of a recomposition of variegated elements into an individual work is implicated in the title of the exhibition itself; Refracted Reality. Like sunlight refracted through a prism into it’s rainbow band of individual colors, the scenes in Steinbrick’s paintings are also a symphony of consonant yet disparate parts; buildings, pedestrians, urban flora, and traffic signs. The artist refers to the magic qualities within his pictorial tableaus as, “… fleeting moments when various elements come together to create a harmonious blending of shape, pattern, form, and color.”
Steinbrick counts among his heroes American Realist Edward Hopper, whose introspective and psychological landscapes captivate viewers to this day, as well as American Impressionist John Singer Sargent, whose bravura and panache with paint handling lent a sense of drama and a uniquely American penchant for showmanship to the Impressionist canon. These qualities and dispositions are readily traceable within Steinbrick’s paintings, while the final results can point to only one maker. The “eye of the tornado” paradoxical presence of both storm and serenity within Steinbrick’s works is vaguely reminiscent of the Pointillist quietude of Georges Seurat, while the narrative threads running throughout these paintings can harken as far back as to the Early Dutch masterworks of Jan Van Eyck and Willem Kalf. Their paintings, like Steinbrick’s, hold myriad objects, each object with a story, each story holding a lifetime of moments … the artist even entitled one of his series, “New York Stories”, a collection of works that possess both chance and purposeful arrangements of characters and symbolism within their scenes. These paintings however, taken in total, perhaps reflect one additional character in an ongoing biopic of creative unfolding, the artist himself.
Lauded art historian Sir Ernst H. Grombrich writes, “Neither art nor nature is ever as smooth and cold as glass. Nature reflected in art always reflects the artist’s own mind, his predilections, his enjoyments, and therefore his moods.” It is indeed possible to get a sense of Mr. Steinbrick’s aesthetic concerns through careful observation of his work. But like most great painting, this is but one of the many generous qualities which can be found within. These paintings signify so many aspects of the contemporary urban experience; cacophonous and melodic, chaotic and serene. Finally, like the Metropolis that inspired them, may these masterful works also encourage viewers to find themselves reflected in the multiple realities therein.
The exhibition will be on view at The Majestic through June 25th , 2017. For further information, please visit us at SILVERMAN or call number (201) 435-8000. The Majestic is located at 222 Montgomery Street in Jersey City, NJ.
“Refracted Reality: Paintings by Michael Steinbrick” is the fifth exhibition that artist/curator Enrico Gomez will organize for SILVERMAN. For additional information on the exhibiting artist Michael Steinbrick, please visit: michaelsteinbrick.com. For additional information on the curator, please visit: enricogomez.com and thedoradoproject.com.
SILVERMAN has presented the works of Jeanne Tremel, Eliot Markel, Debra Drexler, Mark Van Wagner, Rob Ventura, Robert Hendrickson, Sarah Becktle, Kati Vilim, Mark Dagley, Candy Le Sueur, Ed Fausty, Anna Mogilevsky, Ali Harrington, Sara Wolfe, Anne Percoco, Shauna Finn, Melanie Vote, Paul Lempa, Fanny Allié, Michael Meadors, John A. Patterson, Charlotte Becket, Roger Sayre, Karina Aguilera Skvirsky, Tom McGlynn, Margaret Murphy, Valeri Larko, Tenesh Webber, Glenn Garver, Jennifer Krause Chapeau, Michelle Doll, Tim Heins, Megan Maloy, Laurie Riccadonna, Thomas John Carlson, Tim Daly, Ann Flaherty, Scott Taylor, Jason Seder, Sara Wolfe, Beth Gilfilen, Andrzej Lech, Hiroshi Kumagai, Victoria Calabro, Asha Ganpat, Darren Jones, Ryan Roa, Laura Napier, Risa Puno, Nyugen E. Smith, Amanda Thackray, and Kai Vierstra.