Dickinson Gallery Wows with French Artist Claude Viallat

Old parasols are fashioned into something beautiful and new.

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Claude Viallat, Sans titre 326 (2008).
Photo: Courtesy of Dickinson Gallery.
Claude Viallat, Sans titre 013 (2009).
Photo: Courtesy of Dickinson Gallery.
Claude Viallat, Sans titre 110 (1998).
Photo: Courtesy of Dickinson Gallery.
Claude Viallat, Sans titre 082 (2014).
Photo: Courtesy of Dickinson Gallery.
Claude Viallat, Sans titre 009 (2006).
Photo: Courtesy of Dickinson Gallery.
Claude Viallat
Installation view, Claude Viallat.
Photo: Courtesy of Dickinson Gallery.
Claude Viallat
Installation view, Claude Viallat.
Photo: Courtesy of Dickinson Gallery.
Michael Manning, Building a Mystery (2013) from "Sheryl Crow Pandora Paintings."
Photo: themanningcompany.com
Installation view, Spring Group Exhibit.
Photo: Courtesy of Dickinson Gallery.
Grear Patterson, When a Cheerleader Forgets Her Underwear (2014).
Photo: Courtesy of Dickinson Gallery.

The demure Dickinson Gallery on East 66th Street has long been heralded an authority of Old Master works, taking after its eponymous London flagship.

This Monday evening, however, the space embraced a more contemporary flock of artists, yet in the gallery’s traditional spirit of quality and understatement.

The Dickinson Spring Group exhibit, curated by Jason Rulnick, pulls together a collection by French painter Claude Viallat and an assemblage of works by Isaac Brest, Nina Beier, Michael Manning, and Grear Patterson, among others. The reception offered welcome cocktails followed by unofficial, curator-led tours of the works on display.

The exhibit stretches across two rooms; the one dedicated to Viallat was first to inspire curiosity. We were thrilled to rediscover the work of a French artist who has taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, commanded a retrospective at the Centre Pompidou and represented France in the Venice Biennale.

Viallat’s recurring pattern of choice, a larval shape, enjoys colorful and vibrant tones. The maverick’s work is funky, bold, and atypical of the French aesthetic characteristic of his time (he was born in 1936).

The Nîmes-born artist is a radical of sorts. He playfully appropriates cultural insignia, such as the Orangina crest tattooed on parasol fabric, and utilizes re-purposed materials in his pieces. Napkins, linens, sheets, and capes are all fair game.

Viallat’s work appears to hang casually; its warm colors and loose fabrics give it an accessible feel. The paintings are at once familiar, such that walking away from them almost bring on a twinge of nostalgia.

The other artists represented in this spring exhibit provide good synergy with Viallat’s works. Isaac Brest experiments with geometrically shaped tape, Brad Troemel dabbles in inscriptions to be read by UV light, Verne Dawson explores the metaphysical through the days of the week, Nina Beier re-processes pleather, and, finally, Michael Manning obsesses over Sheryl Crow (he titled his digitally printed and neon acrylic–laced canvas series after songs played on Pandora’s Sheryl Crow radio station).

The Claude Viallat exhibition will be on view at Dickinson, 19 East 66th Street, New York, from February 23–March 9.


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