Present in a Lonely Image Group Exhibition by Alexander Gray Associates

Akhira Montague, I saw myself in Santa Monica, Santa Monica Beach, 2020, Digital c-print on Fujicolor Crystal Archive Luster paper. Courtesy of Alexander Grey Associates

Germantown: March 24–May 28, 2023

Alexander Gray Associates, Germantown presents Present in a Lonely Image, a group exhibition spotlighting the artistic practices of current and former Gallery staff. The show foregrounds the singular approach of seven artists while bringing to the fore their shared proclivity towards introspection. This inclination—defined by both self-representation and/or a critique of the illusory nature of visual art—unites the seemingly disparate works and mediums in the presentation.

Of the exhibition, Alexander Gray commented, “We deeply value the contributions of artists on our staff, who balance their own practices while advancing the Gallery’s mission of supporting artists. They are part of a long lineage of artists working in the arts, contributing to New York’s expansive creative cultures and economies. It is an honor to turn the spotlights to these remarkable individuals and their innovative art.”

Akhira Montague’s photographs of herself and friends condense the ennui of young adulthood into poignant images that are both intimately confessional and withdrawn—a contradiction reflecting the social isolation of the Covid-19 epoch during which they were captured. Departing from conventional media, Edward Cabral’s baked bread sculptures transform food into idols of cultural heritage and historical superstition. They draw viewers’ attention to the physical object of art, as do Al Svoboda’s handmade assemblages, which ensnare abstract paintings within oversized wood and metal scaffolding. The tension between support and precarity in Svoboda’s work is likewise enacted by Sam Cherof’s nuanced pigment dispersions, which register the movement of paint across raw canvas.

A pensive, even morbid, temperament also pervades this exhibition. Wade Nobile’s found-object sculpture manifests personal recollections of fraternal kinship in the form of jet-black effigies that signal both threat and trepidation. A similar duality is palpable in the multi-species fantasy world depicted by Caroline Beatrice Bennett whose large-scale figurative gouache conflates ecstasy and agony in a carnivalesque satire of life and the afterlife. Evan Halter’s paintings are also attuned to mortality. His appropriations of iconography from centuries-old art historical precedents are distinctly elegiac, fixating on memento mori and void-like architectural elements to uncanny effect.

Cumulatively, the artworks in Present in a Lonely Image underscore the often-solitary act of making art. And yet, in each work, a part of the artist is left present for the viewer to encounter, transforming that independent act of creation into an ever-expanding dialogue.