Many methods are available to the artist keen to record the world they observe around them. Painting, the medium chosen by Julia Zollman Wickes, is not the obvious one. Photography is indexical, video completist, sketching immediate. But Wickes does it with oil and acrylic on canvas, and the result is something other than just the people and places the rest of us see with our own eyes: tourists by an overlook, a couple at a gas station. In “Moving Forward,” a trio of well-dressed individuals stands awkwardly, their own coloring blending in with the mountain ridge, as drab as it is flecked with sharp tones; where they might be going is anybody’s guess. The oddly titled “Good Times at Gas Stations,” all chunky pink washes and bodies as blocky as filling tanks, takes that quintessentially modern American locale and makes it a subject for aesthetic experimentation. Wilckes’s style recalls the color blocking and simplified forms of Matisse; the brash hues and bold outlines of the Fauves; the edgy retro stylings of the comics artist Ben Katchor; and the who-are-they portraits of Alex Katz. The combination, and the experiences, are all her own.
—Lori Waxman 2019-05-01 3:13 PM