Next Moves

September 15 – November 15, 2022

Opening and Artist’s Reception: Thursday, September 15th, 6-8PM

JENNIFER BAAHNG GALLERY is pleased to present NEXT MOVES, the gallery’s inaugural solo exhibition of Sharon Butler’s work, and to announce its representation of the artist. The exhibition showcases a group of recent multi-panel paintings and selected mixed-media drawings. As conferred, these works articulate the pulse and the trajectory of Butler’s work, transposing graphic differences and traversing dimensions with elegance and wit. NEXT MOVES runs from September 15 through October 22, with an artist’s reception at the gallery on Thursday, September 15th, from 6–8PM. 

In 2016, Sharon Butler began making digital drawings on a phone app called PicsArt. They were meant to be seen on a smartphone, and she posted one each morning on Instagram as a way of marking daily life. Over the course of four years, she made and posted more than 1200 of them. It was a “growing thinking” and a “time in an alley waiting it out.” Eventually, the impulse to paint – born of the irresoluteness that courses through all painters  took hold. In 2020, to facilitate the transformation of the tiny digital drawings into full-sized paintings, she began drawing geometric grids on canvases. The digital drawings encapsulated in small squares on the mobile screen, infinitely scalable and potentially endless, were transfigured into permanent building blocks.

In Butler’s work, the grid functions metaphorically as a pulsating chord; a portal through which she gets from point A to point B. As such, it encapsulates activity, gathering meaning and power over time. So deployed, the grid builds on Butler’s interest in wabi-sabi and the provisional approach that she has called, in The Brooklyn Rail and elsewhere, “casualism.” Like Piet Mondrian’s valedictory Broadway Boogie Woogie, her paintings apprehend the syncopation and movement of New York City, exploring seriality with conceptual rigor, opting for a serendipitous, ironic approach.

The multi-panel paintings in the exhibition are monumental versions of smaller solo works. They embrace the history of painting and abstraction by way of idiosyncratic conjunctions and addenda. They resound with color, texture, and light, while also establishing compositional formality, tactile physicality, and emotional resonance. These liberal re-imaginings of images that were once originally pixelated retain an expressively vibrational quality. At the same time, an exuberant materiality anchors convergent edges, shapes, and patterns that afford the work visual stability.

In artcritical, critic Laurie Fendrich described Butler’s paintings as “beautiful and grittily compelling.” Fendrich added that “the future of abstraction will be owned by those who accept a post-compositional approach to their paintings. Right now, Sharon Butler has the best of both worlds.” In NEXT MOVES, Sharon Butler proposes restlessness within the strictures of painting, courting risk and glory, and we are in her church.

Sharon Butler’s solo exhibitions have been reviewed in numerous publications, including New York Magazine, Hyperallergic, artcritical, The New Criterion, The James Kalm Report, and Time Out New York. She has been awarded grants from Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation, the Pollock Krasner Foundation, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and Eastern Connecticut State University. She has held residencies at Yaddo, Blue Mountain Center, Pocket Utopia, and Counterproof Press. She has served as a visiting professor, artist, and/or critic at Brown University, Cornell University, the Hoffberger School of Painting (MICA), Penn State, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the School of Visual Arts, the Parsons School of Design at the New School, and the Vermont Studio Center. She is the founder of the art blogazine, Two Coats of Paint. She currently teaches in the MFA programs at the New York Academy of Art and the University of Connecticut. 

Sharon Butler lives and works in New York.


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Categories: exhibitions