Critics’ Picks

Poorshe, 2005.

Poorshe, 2005.

New York

Nicki Stager

Ricco / Maresca Gallery
529 West 20th Street Third Floor
March 24–April 30, 2005

If the quality of light in an artist's studio is important (not to mention, of course, its many and varied manifestations within the painted scene), is it doubly so for the photographer? And what, then, for the maker of the photogram? In this process, light becomes medium, form, and instrument, and, as Nicki Stager’s suite of nineteen photograms demonstrate, all else is superfluous. Though she retains the supernatural and poetic values that characterize the works of some of the medium’s early experimenters, like László Moholy-Nagy and Varvara Rodchenko, and that of more recent practitioners like Anne Ferran and Adam Fuss, Stager chooses to “paint” rather than “photograph.” Paring down the uses of this intangible tool to a focused, visible energy, she plays on the fundamental forms of painterly expression—line and color—in a mimicry of the brush. Her ripe, saturated colors appear as rich as actual pigment, and her hesitant, scratched lines offer an intriguingly rudimentary texture. If painting is dead, long live “painting”!