Exhibition: Man Alive

Julia Rommel Man Alive November 6 - December 18 2016

Large square painting, predominantly showing tones of fluorescent yellow. A central yellow rectangle is surrounded by brushy edges in yellows, greens, greys and blues.

Bureau is pleased to announce Julia Rommel’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, Man Alive. The exhibition comprises six large paintings exploding with color and cohering to complex geometric structures. As with her earlier work, the monochrome presides as the core of the composition: a central vista of color, layered and deep, creating a vast gazing pool. Now the monochrome’s preeminence is interrupted as the buzzing periphery pushes into the central visual field, awash with painterly activity. Bright brush strokes and blocky forms bump up against one another as evidence and trace of the artist breaking the bonds of her own procedural rules. Crisscrossing folds poke out from under colorful layers as Rommel’s systematic stretching and un-stretching process is still apparent.

Rommel’s paintings are built up from architectural lines which compartmentalize the canvases, each reminiscent of a crafted stained glass window. The viewer, on the inside looking out, experiences a kind of luminosity shining through, each canvas to a new destination. There is a strong emphasis on a natural color palette. Swaths of blues and greens mix with ochres and browns calling to mind the view of thunderous seascapes or rolling plains and distant vegetation. This evocation also suggests a loosening of self control for Rommel who typically looks to the natural landscape for inspiration, but rarely lets it seep so heavily into her paintings.

Rommel has always given idiosyncratic and witty titles to her paintings contributing a sense of time and narrative to the works and reflecting the artist’s mental landscape in the studio. Perfect Attendance implies an exacting streak of a rule-based practice, while The Unbelievers calls orthodoxy into question. My Stories, Your Semi-Autobiographical First Novel tells anecdotes to accomplished writers and Future Pond, a shock of chartreuse, conjures a malevolent landscape of sulfuric water.

From a multitude of thin layers of wash on linen abutting thick solid surfaces, Rommel creates an alluring juxtaposition that calls greater attention to the materiality of her surfaces. Once weary to enlist a brushstroke, Rommel utilizes the device to bring a kinetic energy not previously seen. Balancing this energy are the regimented De Stijl constructions and the Barnett Newman zips rendered as anchoring pillars. These enhanced compositions, both expanded and contained within Rommel’s grand scale shift allows for the presence of foreground and background. Interspersed layers recede into space, while the monochrome sits flatly on the surface. Informed through years of trial and error, and alongside an emerging drawing practice, Rommel’s monochromatic canvases have matured into complex geometric systems. Where limits and simplicity were once the best practice, the doors have now swung open.

Julia Rommel (b. 1980 in Salisbury MD, lives and works in New York) Her first solo museum show, Two Italians, Six Lifeguards, was hosted by the Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT last year. Current exhibitions include Zombie Formalism, ca. 1970/2016, Mitchell Algus Gallery, New York. Recent solo exhibitions include: A Cheesecake With Your Name On It, Overduin & Co., Los Angeles, CA, 2016; Art Basel Statements with Bureau, 2015; The Little Matchstick, Bureau, 2014. Recent group exhibition include In the Making, Luxembourg & Dayan, New York, 2016; Now I See the Secret of Making, Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, TX, 2015; Space Between, The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, NY, 2015; Where Were You, Lisson Gallery, London, 2014; The Retired Architect, Wallspace Gallery, NY, 2014. Rommel’s work is held in the public collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York as well at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.

Photo of the front gallery, straight on, showing a large abstract painting on the center wall. The painting has a central light blue rectangle, with a bright, thick honey yellow strip down the middle to the left side. The edges are painted roughly in light blues, turquoise, more yellow, brown and black.
My Stories, Your Semi-Autobiographical First Novel, 2016, 78.5 x 68.25 inches

My Stories, Your Semi-Autobiographical First Novel, 2016, 78.5 x 68.25 inches

Corner shot of the main gallery. Three large abstract paintings hang in tones of greens, browns and blues.
Large square abstract painting. The work is divided into rough geometric sections - a central aqua rectangle is surrounded by patches of reddish brown, pea green and medium sky blue.

Hubble, 2016, 81 x 86.75 inches

Large abstract painting with tones of green, blue, and terra cotta brown with some outlines of black and grey. The work features a central light blue rectangle, edged by stripes of various colors.

Perfect Attendance, 2016, 82 x 71 inches

Large abstract painting in tones of light blue and aqua. There is a central shape that looks like a backwards uppercase letter B, in a light blue tone with a bit of green, and beside it many wide, irregular stripes in varying tones of sky blue. There is a dark blue stripe at the top, the rest of the painting is quite light in tone.

Electric Blanket, 2016, 77 x 77 inches

Installation view, corner shot, showing two large abstract paintings, to the left light blue and to the right bright highlighter yellow with darker green edges.
Installation view, corner view, with a view of the entry into the main hallway. Two large abstract paintings hang. At left a square canvas in tones of highlighter yellow and other green and blue tones, and to the right a dark blue/black painting with stripes of white and light blue on the edges.
A large, horizontal dark blue/black painting with stripes of white, dark turquoise and light blue on the edges. Some elongated triangular shapes appear at top and right and along the bottom, the result from folding the canvas.

The Unbelievers, 2016, 71.5 x 106.625 inches