Critics’ Picks

Linda McCue, Clown und andere (Clown and Others), 2009, oil on canvas, 49 x 73".


Linda McCue

Galerie Elly Brose-Eiermann
Zimmerstrasse 88-89
February 5–June 20

For her first solo exhibition at Elly Brose-Eiermann’s Berlin location, Linda McCue offers a selection of her most recent paintings and watercolors. Her extremely precise pictorial language has an entirely personal and surreal character, although she often treats painting and drawing differently. While her paintings depict arrangements of objects, her drawings, which are more tender in tone, picture representations of the human figure––often self-portraits of the artist engaged in a stylized interaction with a quiet world of things, as in Waiting I–VII, 2009. In a refined and subtle manner, these paintings evoke stagelike artificiality. Yet, remarkably, the arrangements do not resemble traditional still lifes, since they consistently confront the viewer with a sober flatness characteristic of trompe l’oeil—that is, with the reality of the painting as a two-dimensional and thoroughly aesthetic construct.

The specific range of motifs that McCue employs––gadgets, kitsch, and fine-art objects––are presented in combination with references to other artists, including Sigmar Polke, Bridget Riley, František Kupka, and Vincent Trasov. McCue intertwines this ambivalent content with aspects of composition, so that her paintings question their own unified space of representation. Exemplary of this is Farbspektrum und andere (I) (Color Spectrum and Others [1]), 2008, a landscape-format piece whose horizontal division recalls a specific type of late Mark Rothko. As in Rothko, the upper part of the painting is a flat black surface contained by a narrow white frame that has been painted on; in McCue, however, the frame is not white, but gray. She varies the lower area of the painting: In the place of Rothko’s light gray, she leaves the raw linen as it is, as a “non-space.” In these apertures, she paints long objects that, like children’s blocks, make use of a reduced color spectrum. Her method brings to mind Vincent Trasov's, since he made many similar large blocks. Only when the viewer looks again do they see that the objects are in fact two-dimensional. Similarly, in Clown und andere (Clown and Others), 2009, flat pictorial objects and shadows define deceptive depths: There is a dreamy reference to Riley that appears suspended between two- and three-dimensionality––a uniquely unreal space. But this is exactly the irrationality that McCue renders with such fascinating precision.

Translated from German by Jane Brodie.