Painter Julie Curtiss will discuss their body of work with art critic and art historian, Jason Rosenfeld of the Brooklyn Rail. We will conclude with a poetry reading from Morgan Vo.
Julie Curtiss is a French artist based in Brooklyn. Curtiss focuses on the relationship between nature and culture in her figurative painting, sculpture, and gouache on paper, exposing and reworking female archetypes through a surrealist sense of the uncanny. ‘In my images, I enjoy the complementarity of humor and darkness, the uncanny and the mundane, grotesque shapes and vivid colours’, she has commented. Using a range of different media including oil, acrylic, or gouache, Curtiss’ paintings feature a variety of treatments and textures in matt, unmodulated colors that are finely mixed to achieve a precise, tonal effect.
Psychologically driven, her work adopts Surrealist strategies of picture making, using a shallow depth of field and close-cropping to leave parts of an image out, resulting in a sense of intimate objectivity that hints at underlying sexual or fetishistic activities. In a painting such as Woman in High Heels (2019) for example, a truncated pair of female legs emerge from a Rousseau-style bush, while in Triplette (2019), three nude female figures intently examine each other’s long hair. In these works, Curtiss situates the viewer as a predator or furtive voyeur, allowing the viewer to glimpse what should remain hidden. Derailing the sense of a privileged gaze, the viewer is left askew: complicit and uncomfortable, in a manner that recalls the authorial strategies used in Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966), Marcel Duchamp’s Étant donnés (1946-66) or Robert Gober’s Untitled Leg (1989-90). As Curtiss has said: ‘I am interested in nuances, in complexity, in the in-between, in complementarity.’
The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poem, and we’re fortunate to have Morgan Vo reading.