Author: Peter Murphy

Moving In: A Review of ‘Home Body’ at Sapar Contemporary

February 19 – March 23, 2021 Sapar Contemporary9 North Moore St, NYC For better or worse, every art exhibition over the past year has been framed by the COVID-19 pandemic. At its onset, this connection occurred by default; but as time went on, galleries began to incorporate the pandemic into their programming as a subject or theme. The decision to contextualize exhibitions in this manner resurrected an age-old question: what purpose does art serve in periods of crisis? Home Body, an exhibition brilliantly curated by Nico Wheadon that features exquisite work by Elia Alba, Baseera Khan, Sola Olulode, and Maya Varadaraj, offers one poignant reply: when the relationship between art and the present is brought to our attention, we would do well to focus on the minutiae of the moment. In an essay accompanying the exhibition, Wheadon emphasizes that one’s sense of isolation during the pandemic inevitably reshapes notions of embodiment. For Wheadon, this sense of embodiment senses the body as a “home, or interior world,” that we can “return to or seek refuge in.” …

Sometimes, You Have to Laugh: A Review of Nicola Tyson ‘Sense of Self’ at Petzel Gallery

September 2 – October 3, 202035 E 67th Street Written by Peter Murphy, University of Rochester Stepping into Petzel Gallery on the Upper East Side, I felt beside myself. Months had passed since I last visited a gallery; would I remember how to behave amongst Nicola Tyson’s wondrous paintings? Fortunately, Tyson seems to be a kindred spirit for those unsure of themselves. She states in the press release that that her “center of gravity had shifted” during the pandemic. Tyson started a series of new paintings prior to lockdown, only to abandon them as the world came to a halt. She returned to eight canvases this past summer and found that “what had begun as an exploration of relationship to another, refocused instead on relationship with self.” This turn toward the self is standard for Tyson—her oeuvre is filled with vibrant and exaggerated self-portraits in which she is identifiable by her familiar auburn hair. What is not standard, of course, is the current state of the world and our presence within it. With this exhibition, …