Critics’ Picks

Uman, Uman (Born Again), 2022, acrylic, oil, oil stick on canvas, 48 x 48". Photo: Nikos Alexopoulos.

Uman, Uman (Born Again), 2022, acrylic, oil, oil stick on canvas, 48 x 48". Photo: Nikos Alexopoulos.

Athens

Uman

Eleni Koroneou Gallery
Thorikion 7 30, Dimofontos Str.
September 29–November 26, 2022

The fourteen paintings on display in Uman’s solo exhibition “Goodnight Sweetdreams” suggest an act of temperance on the part of the artist, of balancing internal forces, while also celebrating the explosive sensorial experience of the outside world. Exorcism meets Impressionism, as imagery from African folk tales or memory-shrouded landscapes merges with more contemporary references (for instance, Black sun/son, 2022, appears to quote Jeff Koons’s Apollo Wind Spinner, 2020–22, a motorized steel-and-bronze sculpture installed on the Greek island of Hydra). The artist gravitates toward rounded forms; scattered eyes peer out at the viewer in Umanu, 2022, and spirals coalesce to make up the belly and breasts of a mother figure in Mama, 2022. Elsewhere, circles frequently serve as a simple compositional element, reservoirs of color.

A self-taught Somalia-born artist now based in upstate New York, Uman employs a diverse range of stylistic vocabularies across her compositions. The Universe IV, 2018–19, coats the canvas with a soothing collection of orbs in an earth-tone-heavy palette, while similar looping gestures foment into dense figuration in To Gerasimos, 2022, a painting dedicated to fellow painter (and sometime collaborator) Gerasimos Floratos. The lighthearted Flowers in my Field, 2019–21, could be an homage to Monet in the way it carries its natural motifs to abstraction. The flowers it depicts might just as well be read as insects or even little suns. Here, Uman strikes a fine balance between expressive mark-making and a restrained use of color; the resulting painting is one of the stronger moments in the show.