Natalie Frank "All Fur III" 2011-2014
Natalie Frank reinterprets fairy tales using gouache, chalk pastels, and her own wonderfully warped lens. Like Paula Rego, Cindy Sherman, and Kiki Smith before her, she manages to revisit these stories in a way that feels of the now, charged with sexual politics, violence, and inquiries into identity. This week, I had the great pleasure of seeing her show, "Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm" which is currently up at The Drawing Center. I was dazzled by her glowing Fauvist palette and the masterful way in which she balances the grotesquerie and raw magic of the original Grimm tales. There is something menacing about her works, with their frenzied lines, manic patterns, and watchful eyeballs embellished throughout. But there is also a bent joyfulness here, and I found myself laughing out loud at several of the pieces - a rare treat in the often self-serious artlandia.
Don't miss this one. And while you're there, be sure to page through (or if you're able, purchase), the stunner of a book that coincides with the show, which includes the texts of the stories themselves, alongside Frank's tremendous illustrations.
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm
April 10th - June 28th
Since completing her M.F.A. at Columbia University in 2006, Natalie Frank has been making a name for herself with energetic, visceral paintings that boldly embrace the liminal space between figuration and abstraction. A virtuoso painter and draftswoman, Frank is unique among her peers in her willingness to employ the traditional mediums of painting and drawing in the service of taboo themes. Focusing on the dialogue between flesh and spirit, the artist explores, in her own words, the parallel poles of “longing and desire but also disgust and fascination” that constitute humanity.
At The Drawing Center, Frank applies her visual and psychological acumen to that most evocative and misunderstood of literary forms, the fairytale—specifically the original, unsanitized stories transcribed by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm between 1812 and 1857. Only a few contemporary artists have worked within the fairytale genre; fewer still have systematically interrogated the complexity of these tales and the way in which they address social and sexual mores that continue to have relevance today. Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm presents twenty-five drawings out of a total of seventy-five that Frank completed over a period of three-and-a-half years between 2011 and 2014. The drawings are made in gouache and chalk pastel—the first time that Frank has worked exclusively in this medium—producing both gritty and luminous surface effects. Engaging the intersection between body and mind, reality and fiction, the series can be seen as a contemporary feminist reimagining of a symbolist legacy.
Curated by Claire Gilman, Senior Curator.
Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm is made possible by the support of The Evelyn Toll Family Foundation, Merrill Mahan, Stephanie Ingrassia, Sarah Peter, Kim Manocherian, Irwin and MaryAnn Gold, and Liz Parks.
Special thanks to Rhona Hoffman Gallery and ACME.