Exhibition - Nicole Phungrasamee Fein: Joy Fields

Friday, Jul 2, 2021 at 11:00am

Nancy Hoffman Gallery
520 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001

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Watercolor has long been the medium of choice for Nicole Phungrasamee Fein whose first solo exhibition at Nancy Hoffman Gallery opens on May 13 and continues through July 3, 2021. For several decades, she has made drawings sequentially, always working on paper. With a meticulous hand and singular focus, Fein challenges the conventional use of watercolor and defies the limitations one associates with the medium. Fein builds fields of complex, luminous color and creates patterns using a technique she calls “speckle,” a highly controlled way of manipulating veils of color. The artist has said: “Slowing down is fundamental to what I do. I use processes that are technical, but the essence of the work is not the technique—it’s the process of slowing down and building something in a step-by-step, iterative manner. That is my approach to every day.” Thus, the works have a meditative, ethereal quality and a quiet strength as they address the square format of the paper. The central field of paint might be a circle or square or other geometric configuration.

Over the years the artist has distilled her imagery following her quiet yet profound voice. Each work is an object of contemplation, coming to life as the artist slowly makes one mark or dot after another until the image appears. It may be a circle emerging as a shimmering mirage-like planet born from a drop of water or a pinwheel-like form of thin layers of varied subtle colors. It may be a square created with thin washes of many colors which live and breathe at the edge of the work as the secrets that lie beneath what appears to be green, russet or blue. Fein’s works are never representational; they are abstract, often suggestive of landscape or falling rain, always thoughtfully placed within the square. Following several years of eschewing color for black, grey, white and silver, Fein returned to the use of color this past autumn, injecting an air of positivity into this series of “Joy Fields.” In this dark time when we are all sheltering, there is more than a glimmer of hope and beauty in the jewel-colored works, each intimate in scale, the totality a quiet symphony.

Fein has written about her work: My practice is simple – I make one small mark at a time. The work strives to harmonize focus and repose, creating a space that is simultaneously tense and tranquil. When I draw, I make what feel like individual steps, marking the moments and maintaining a steady rhythm, as if I am walking. In doing so, I find a practice that centers on the extremely slow and focused pace – and the resulting sense of calm, for both myself and the viewer – of meticulous, methodical mark making. The drawings represent the search for a visually and emotionally grounded experience, composed slowly and cumulatively.

Nicole Phungrasamee Fein was born in Evanston, Illinois (1974) and grew up in Santa Barbara, California. She attended Tufts University (BA), the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (BFA), and Mills College, Oakland, CA (MFA). She has exhibited nationally and internationally including San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Zurich, and Berlin. Her work has been reviewed in Artforum, The Week, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The San Francisco Chronicle, Artweek and ARTnews. Her work is included in permanent public collections: the Achenbach Foundation at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Berkeley Art Museum; Blanton Museum; Fogg Museum; Hammer Museum; Menil Drawing Institute; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. She lives and works in San Francisco.

Exhibition Date: May 13, 2021 - July 3, 2021 

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