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Maureen Gallace

Maureen Gallace Uses Coastal Landscape as a Lens for the Past, Present, and Future

Maureen Gallace created new works—in paint on canvas and coal on paper—while in residence in a house in Connecticut by the sea. In an exhibition of new works, she captures a seaside landscape that evokes feelings of the familiar and the uncanny.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of stepping into a Maureen Gallace exhibition. Each work on view, assembled with a palpable exactitude, imbues its own magnetic pull, compelling the viewer to explore each composition with a sense of awe and curiosity. Small in scale, they command an immense presence on the often nearly naked walls from where they hang. In her most recent exhibition at Gladstone in New York, Gallace presented a series of new paintings and drawings that depict scenes she is well known for reimagining: coastal locales and the natural elements that encompass these quiet places.

Maureen Gallace

Maureen Gallace, “Late August,” 2023, oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches, courtesy of the artist and Gladstone.

Maureen Gallace Returns to Her Home State of Connecticut

On this exhibition, the artist remarked how a new residence outside her typical Connecticut dwelling has influenced the works on view, not only through the subjects captured but the light and environmental differentiators she experienced daily. Although the motifs and scenes depicted may seem familiar to anyone who has spent time in the New England area, there is an undefinable ambiguity as to where exactly these vistas originated. Almost as a form of abstraction, Gallace blends her experience and journeys into a body of work that celebrates the singularity with which she sees the world around her.

Maureen Gallace

Installation view of Maureen Gallace at Gladstone, New York, courtesy of Gladstone.

Gallace is unafraid in the approach to her material, whether it be paint, charcoal, or watercolor. Each line or bit of paint is placed with such specificity and confidence. She leaves no room for error, and each form or gesture is positioned with intention. The ease with which these elements connect demonstrates the arduous and unforgiving nature of her practice, which requires unrelenting perfection. These works are layered, both through the artist’s careful application of paint and the conceptual complexity inherent to the subjects shown or implied.

Maureen Gallace

Maureen Gallace, “Crashing Wave, Late September,” 2023, oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches, courtesy of the artist and Gladstone.

Another intriguing component of this show was the artist’s ever-changing vantage point in connection to the places and elements she finds. Tightly cropped views of flowers in-situ or waves crashing along the shore were juxtaposed alongside landscape scenes: vernacular barn forms inhabiting expansive field-like spaces or never-ending seascapes.

A Play of Light, Movement, and Gesture

Movement also plays a significant role in these compositions. A subtle breeze or brazen oceanic gust distorts what appears in front of her into a series of interconnected gestures. Regardless of where she is standing or walking, Gallace can push a form to its absolute limit with a delicate yet assertive touch.

It is a daunting task to write about Gallace’s work, mainly because it seems challenging to equally capture the precision she portrays with each composition through words. There is an undeniable mix of feelings that brim up to the surface when seeing her work, further complicating a definitive understanding of what she makes. Joy, awe, devastation, loneliness, and peace compete with one another to try and make sense of the deceptively simple forms presented. The show was not celebratory or mournful, but an honest and vulnerable portrait of life: past, present, and future.

Maureen Gallace

Maureen Gallace, “Pine Creek,” 2024, oil on panel, 10 x 9 inches, courtesy of the artist and Gladstone.

Maureen Gallace

Maureen Gallace, “Late October,” 2023, oil on panel, 8 x 10 inches, courtesy of the artist and Gladstone.

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Minjung Kim

THE SPRING ARTIST ISSUE
2023

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Inviting the audience to feel, touch, and experience art in its most dynamic state is “When Forms Come Alive” at Hayward Gallery.
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