Critics’ Picks

Eleanor Aldrich, Lawn Chair w/ White Tee Shirt, 2018, oil, caulk, found paper, and canvas on panel, 24 x 30 x 2”.

Nashville

Eleanor Aldrich

Channel To Channel
507 Hagan St. Suite A
March 2–April 20, 2019

From Piet Mondrian to Agnes Martin, modern painters have steadfastly used the grid as a formal framework upon which to hang conceptual content. Eleanor Aldrich reconsiders this convention, favoring a grittier approach to both material and subject. “Main Squeeze” includes a series of ten impastoed paintings that zero in on the flesh of human figures, which physically pushes through the pictorial mesh of lawn chairs, hammocks, and chain-link fencing with silicone, paint, and found materials.

Aldrich grew up in a rural, working-class Arizona town, populated by the types of people she reimagines in her paintings. I.T. Guy, 2019, depicts a man from behind; the lattice of a blue chair back is superimposed on the checkerboard of his black-and-white shirt. A viewer can get lost in the close-cropped composition of Nanette (Back with Fence), 2018, in which a woman leans against a fence, her clothing punctuated with paper image transfers and juicy brushstrokes. Surprisingly, Lawn Chair w/ Country Magic, 2018, incorporates needle-felted wool to depict a pair of cowboy boots embroidered on a jacket. Yet the most pared-down image is the most arresting: Lawn Chair w/ White Tee Shirt, 2018, uses caulk as paint, finding a canny medium for representing cool, white cotton stretched over a fleshy body.

In her canonical 1979 essay Grids, art historian Rosalind Krauss explains that, as a modernist trope, the grid inherently resists representation: “It is what art looks like when it turns its back on nature.” As if in response, Aldrich both embraces and sends up this statement, adopting the form not as an escapist structure but as a screen through which to view—and even pinch or prod—a version of real life.