Critics’ Picks

Emily Furr, Steel Pulse, 2018, oil on board, wood frame, 6 1/2 x 5 1/2".

Emily Furr, Steel Pulse, 2018, oil on board, wood frame, 6 1/2 x 5 1/2".

New York

Emily Furr

Sargent's Daughters
179 East Broadway Ground Floor
August 3–September 9, 2018

For her first-ever solo exhibition, “Mother Lode,” painter Emily Furr has adorned the white walls of this gallery with intimately scaled oils of rockets, vents, chains, and buzz-saw blades floating in celestial skyscapes. The artist’s boxy yet sexually suggestive paintings, executed on board, combine rough surface textures with formal exactitude. In Hole Glory (all works 2018), an oblong, gray object enters from the left to pierce the center of a reflective, red torus set in a field of impastoed cerulean paint, lightly abutting the right edge of the canvas on its way out. Clap Trap 2 treats a kinky, rectangular air duct in a similar fashion. Taken out of its architectural context, the form penetrates a tumultuous expanse of black oil paint from the top-left corner of the canvas. Furr’s tension-laden compositions enhance the contrast between form and void inherent in her chosen subjects, all of which provocatively offer up breaches to be filled—or perhaps left hollow.

Viewing Furr’s work brings to mind Lee Lozano’s paintings of tools from the mid 1960s, especially the colossal, eight-foot-long Ream, 1964, as well as Forrest Bess’s esoteric, Lilliputian oils. According to the gallery, Furr “seeks to restore” the “feminine archetype . . . by working against the current phallocentric age and issuing in a new yonic era.” This is a far more straightforward though less easily realized approach to gender relations than Lozano’s decision to “boycott women” back in 1971, or Bess’s belief that hermaphroditism led to immortality (and subsequent self-surgery). I’m not sure that the “feminine archetype” will ever be restored, nor that it should be. The eroticism of Furr’s paintings seduces me nonetheless.