new-york

Saira McLaren, Untitled (Bright Brush), 2014, pigment and dye on raw canvas, 64 × 59".

Saira McLaren

Sargent's Daughters

Saira McLaren, Untitled (Bright Brush), 2014, pigment and dye on raw canvas, 64 × 59".

Saira McLaren’s show saved my sober January. Here were nine bibulous paintings: raw canvas sponges that had absorbed several centuries of landscape tradition and were drunk on garish color but still quick on their feet. (Birds in Spring carries the date of 2015, as if brought into the gallery still wet from the studio; all the other works were from 2014.) Looking like Gilded Age scholars’ rocks, three slumped and shimmering ceramics accompanied the paintings. The overall effect was of a seasonal shift, when buds begin to break through frost and everything seems to be dripping and dazzlingly bright.

McLaren’s not-quite-whole ceramics suggest the precious Asian porcelains found in fin-de-siècle paintings by John Singer Sargent and William Merritt Chase, but only after they have been knocked over and their pieces melted down and recast with gold and silver putty suturing the cracks.

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