THE MOIRA DRYER PROJECT
January 12 – February 22, 2014 | 11 Rivington St & 195 Chrystie St, NY
Eleven Rivington is pleased to present a two-part exhibition: a solo presentation of abstract paintings from the late 80s – early 90s by the late Moira Dryer (1957 – 1992) at 11 Rivington Street; and a group show featuring new works by Julia Dault, Noam Rappaport, Jackie Saccoccio, Mika Tajima, Jeffrey Tranchell, and Mary Weatherford at the gallery’s 195 Chrystie Street location.
Eschewing the resurgence of figural painting in the ‘80s, Moira Dryer developed her soulful casein-on-plywood abstractions until her untimely death in 1992. Dryer used experimental materials to create richly hued fields of color by melding orderly elements, such as patterns or loose stripes, with visceral drips and organic bursts, calling to mind early Frank Stella, Clyfford Still, Morris Louis, and Helen Frankenthaler, among others. With a background in theater, Dryer described her emotive pieces as ‘props’ - which became active characters in their own performance or narrative. The artist often customized her paintings with cutouts or holes; paired them with shelves; or applied found objects, such as locks or luggage handles to the sides, suggestive of objects that had parallel lives beyond the gallery wall.
Born in Toronto in 1957 to an architect mother and philosophy professor father, Dryer left for New York to attend the School of Visual Arts, where she graduated with honors in 1981. At SVA she studied under and befriended painter Elizabeth Murray and met her future husband, fellow painter Victor Alzamora (1953 – 1983). During her early years in New York, Dryer was a studio assistant for Murray and Julian Schnabel, and also worked in local theater as a prop and set designer. Following her first solo exhibition in 1986 at New York’s John Good Gallery, Dryer went on to have solo shows at Mary Boone Gallery; and at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art in 1987 and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1989. In 1993, a year after the artist succumbed to a five-year battle with breast cancer at age 34, Robert Storr curated a Projects exhibition of Dryer’s paintings at MOMA.
Contemporizing Dryer’s work, the group show at 195 Chrystie reflects a current engagement with abstraction by a group of living artists. Like Dryer, Jeffrey Tranchell makes use of hardware such as drawer pulls and door knobs, but rather than relegating them to the painting’s borders, he adds them directly to the painting’s front surface. Both Jackie Saccoccio’s and Mary Weatherford’s work echoes Dryer’s simultaneously opaque and transparent washes of casein, revealing chromatic layers of stains and washes. Noam Rappaport’s hand-wrought painted constructions employ cutouts and framing devices of unconventional shapes and colors. Mika Tajima’s abstractions closely resemble Dryer’s atmospheric fields, but her conceptual process reflects art’s connection with technology today; Tajima records the thundering production noise from textile factories and translates them into woven, abstract portraits on acoustic panels.