Paintings That Manage to Focus Our Divided Attentions. By Sarah Rose Sharp
We are saturated by media messaging. It stands to reason, then, that video and interdisciplinary art are popular contemporary art forms — the collage-like nature of those media match the constant barrage of imagery, advertising, and sensory inputs we receive on a daily basis. So where does that leave the hallowed medium of painting? How can one static image begin to capture lived experience, at a time when one might literally need to embark on a meditation retreat to truly focus on a single subject?
The work of Njideka Akunyili Crosby, currently on display in Predecessors at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, answers this question with astonishing polish and grace: You can contain many images in one. What could potentially feel like an overwhelming mishmash of imagery instead becomes a fluid tapestry, controlled by Crosby’s extraordinary sensitivity to balance, perspective, and palette.
Image: Predecessors, 2013
Acrylic, charcoal, colour pencils, and transfer on paper
Two panels, each: 213.4 x 213.4 cm /84 x 84 in
Collection Tate, London