Arms Now Legs
What has the diaphanous sheen of a Helen Frankenthaler, the roiling opaque shapes of a Clyfford Still and the clean and cryptic symbology of a James Rosenquist? The work of Elizabeth Neel might come close. She shows new work in “Arms Now Legs,” her first exhibition at Salon 94, just six blocks from her grandmother Alice Neel’s retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
It would do Neel’s work injustice, however, to limit it to comparison. Against creamy, khaki-colored backgrounds, the canvases on view in this show indicate a distinct visual vocabulary. The magenta-paletted Darlest Dearing (2021), for instance, includes pale blots of symmetrical pink alongside thicker imprints which are visibly textured from the act of stamping. Thick swirling strokes tinged with white roll through the center like storm systems, and certain shapes ooze downward organically while others abut the bottom edge in elongated triangles and rectangles. The sometimes programmatic layers of their construction match the recursiveness of their titles: alongside the chiastic Darlest Dearing there is Lives of the Many Lives of the Few (2021), Blue Black Bleed (2021), and a series which iterates through family members.
Elizabeth Neel, Exchange Principle, 2021. Acrylic on Canvas, 60 x 144 inches.