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Review: Notes from the playing field

I confess: I know less than nothing about sports. In fact, my closest connection to any football field came last Thursday at Marlborough Gallery in Chelsea, where I went to see Jane Dickson's show Night Driving, an exhibition of about twenty recent oil paintings on astroturf. Yes, that's right. Astroturf. Think pointillism meets the playing field. It's difficult to capture in reproduction, but the effect is quietly mesmerizing, even hypnotic.

Dickson is no stranger to the exploration of unusual painting grounds, having already used sandpaper and carpet surfaces for her paintings. The astroturf bears a certain relationship to velvet paintings, imbuing an eerie luminosity to the works, but these lack any overt sentimentality or kitschiness.

Dickson provides views of cars on highways, bridges, garages, and sights so familiar they might seem bland. However, as the artist states, she is "...drawn to represent the uncanny, defined by Freud as, 'the familiar grown strange,' aiming to pull the unnoticed, the unquestioned, into the foreground, aiming to provide a space within my work for reflection on where we now find ourselves and what that tells us about who we are." These stated intentions are extremely well-realized through her new paintings. Slightly three-dimensional and definitely tactile, these works, not just for their scale, demand to be seen in person.

From afar the paintings appear to be realistic, but with each step closer, shapes dissolve into a shimmering surface of color. Depth perception disappears, and indeed the familiar grows wonderfully strange.

This show is up until February 14th at Marlborough Gallery in Chelsea, 525 W 25th St., New York, NY.

(FYI, Jane Dickson is also the artist responsible for the mosaic of New Year's Eve Revelers, permanently installed in the NYC subway tunnel between Port Authority and Times Square.)

[image above: Blue Tunnel 2, 2006-2008, Oil on astroturf, 29 x 36 in., 73.7 x 91.4 cm. Copyright Jane Dickson, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York.]

For more reviews, visit Sky Pape's blog Drawn Together

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