Critics’ Picks

Colleen Asper, {Forward Fold, Legs Wide; Triple Triangle}, 2014, oil on canvas, 27 x 69''.

New York

Colleen Asper

On Stellar Rays
213 Bowery Street
September 18 - October 23

The gaze that’s key to Colleen Asper’s latest works in “Nobody/Monobody” is utterly contained within the self. Asper’s show is a heady concoction that depicts the female body in a wide range of commonplace, yet complicated, yoga poses. The artist’s scrupulously rendered oil paintings, many of which are photorealistic, are built upon rigorously geometric compositional structures and make subtle references to modernism. In {forward fold, legs wide; triple triangle}, 2014, a woman doing a headstand while bent at the waist, her legs in an upside-down V formation, mirrors the black and white triangles on the floor she’s posing on. In the series “{spektrum, hands},” 2016, five filmy, monochromatic rectangles are gently braced by hands, slyly humanizing each formalist slate.

The press release, an abstract dialogue between a “Nobody” and a “Monobody,” makes us think that the figures we are witnessing exist within a vacuum, incapable of receiving any kind of external input. Here, “Nobody” refers to the process of invagination—as Merriam-Webster explains it, “the formation of a gastrula by an infolding of part of the wall of the blastula.” One, admittedly, is entirely confused. Is the active viewing of these pieces akin to the drawing back of a labial curtain—have we been welcomed into the Holy Temple of the Central Core? It’s difficult to say. But one thing is for certain: Asper transmogrifies familiar female shapes into lively and sensuous feminine forms.