A true history of human events would show that a far larger proportion of our acts are the result of sudden impulse and accident than of that reason of which we so much boast.

(Peter Cooper)

I have had to tell people not to touch works of art on multiple occasions. The desire to fondle, rub, squeeze and pinch is hard to discourage. Sometimes people flick and knock on things. Why? Where is their sense of decorum? Apparently the old adage “with your eyes, not your hands” was not conveyed to them in grade school. Still—I get it. I want to touch too.

The artists featured in this exhibition: Alec Egan, Mandy Lynn Ford, Bobby Mathieson, Sophia Narrett, and Mette Tommerup all create works that beg to be tactically explored. From overt non-traditional two-dimensional media to thick and trompe l’oeil applications of paint, each work speaks to surface, texture and material narrative.

Artist Sophia Narrett speaks about the relationship between her storytelling and the use of a fiber medium: “I transitioned from oil paint to embroidery by chance in 2010. I had some thread in my studio to experiment with and I was so attracted to its materiality that it seemed natural to try making a simple outline drawing in thread. From there I fell in love with the process. Rather than learning technical stitches I began to improvise and paint with the thread. By using improvisational stitching and making photocollages as reference material, I was able to render images in thread. Embroidered images are immediately intimate, visually tactile, and accessible. These associations have become important to me as I create narratives of love and self-actualization. I think of embroidery (and its implicit history) as helping to specify the tone that my stories are told in, one characterized by obsession, desire, and both the freedoms and restraints of femininity.” Mandy Lyn Ford references 1990’s Nickelodeon television through explosive energy and humor. Part wall relief, part painting, part sculpture, each work presents a playful interpretation of abstract art.

Ford’s extreme impasto paintings are simultaneously creatures, game boys, and desserts. Tirelessly layered cakes, soaked, dyed, covered in glitter, cut and then bonded back together, they look as though they would melt if placed them in the sun.

Artist Mette Tommerup creates heavily layered works that address the social media culture zeitgeist. Tommerup states: “Emojis pop up playfully corrupting expressionist metanarratives in my latest paintings. Larger canvasses and heavy application of oil paint allow for an arena to further mock Nordic Angst, and make stabs at the culture of irony as well as interfere with preconceptions of contemporary painting today.” Bobby Mathieson captures historically or culturally significant moments in his work, and expands on the emotional content through his paintings and imagery through the use of vibrant shocking color and form. Positioning historically and culturally significant subjects within a visceral and highly textured figurative expressionism, Mathieson’s paintings reflect the emotional complexity shaping his relationship to these figures through a portraiture that is at once provocative, grotesque and deeply reverent. The intuitive use of brushstroke and palette knife creates a sense of controlled chaos, marking the works with the rhythm and immediacy of their production.

Artist Alec Egan is a Los Angeles based painter. His thick impastoed figurative paintings are strikingly banal interior scenes. The interior spaces his paintings depict are premised on a fictitious memory— willfully playing on tropes of nostalgia. There are moments of clarity in the messy compositions. Particular objects begin to stick out and become repeated across his various canvases. This repetition allows the items to garner their own strength and intensity, despite their mundane status—pair of socks or plants on a windowsill are distilled into something melancholic and profound. Egan’s background as a creative writer and lover of poetry resonates in the quiet irony of each of his works.