Nature Abstracted

Paintings by Elise Freda, and Works on Paper by Madelon Jones

In the Backroom: paintings by Nancy Rutter and Joseph Maresca

January 7, 2010 through February 15, 2010

Carrie Haddad Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition, Nature Abstracted, featuring paintings by Elise Freda and works on paper by Madelon Jones. Continuing into the back room are paintings by Joseph Maresca and Nancy Rutter. The exhibit will be on view from January 7th, 2010 through February 15th, 2010.

By manipulating raw material to form an organized whole, painters affirm their power to create something that stands in the face of nature; a painting exists as a testament to the authority of the artist. Nature is manifold and all-inclusive, while art thrives on the artist’s selectivity, on the deliberateness and specificity of the work’s character. To take nature as the subject-matter of a painting is necessarily to abstract from it – to fragment it or to distill it.

Madelon Jones gives form to the unseen yet omnipresent aspects of nature: the principles of flux and creation. In each of her paintings on view, a loose grid of organic, pulsating lines serves as the organizing compositional element. The near perpendicularity of these marks creates tension, intimates a clash of opposing forces. Spatial, linear and color relations are most complex at the center of each composition, a formal trend that enables each work to function as a stage for this dramatic collision of forces to play out. And the tension itself is a primal one: the viewer, in relating to these works, feels gripped by the push and pull of the pulsional rhythm that Jones’s gestures produce.

While several of Jones’s paintings evoke some kind of primal force, others evoke specific natural phenomena. In “Atmosphere 2,” a series of elliptical brushstrokes veils the still present underlying grid, whose structure peeks through in parts but is largely undermined. The circular movement of the warm-hued washes builds up a surface that reads as a ripple in water. Distinct from Jones’s other work, whose project is in part to make tangible an invisible energy, “Atmosphere 2” describes a fragment of the natural world – a frozen moment rather than an eternal flux.

Like Jones’ paintings, the work of Elise Freda thrives on conflict, the juxtaposition of formal elements. Sharp rectangles of pristine color float in space beside gestural, spontaneous marks – drips, dabs, splats. The order instated by the geometry acts as a foil to the organic quality of these marks, enhancing their beauty. In “Poppies,” the close proximity of a flat, red geometric band to one of the gestures endows it with tremendous movement. By virtue of the still and silent assertiveness of the squares, the fragility of the primal mark becomes palpable. The delicacy of this form, the insecurity of its existence, alludes to the transience of nature.

In Joseph Maresca’s paintings, light animates objects. A phantom and a force, light in Maresca’s work creates color, space, experience. His paintings of parlor interiors evoke Bonnard in color and Balthus in space. White light pours bountifully through large Victorian windows. It throws itself with blunt precision on the floor and on the backs of figures, casting their bodies in flat darkness; elsewhere it kisses women’s robes, imparting unexpected color – the kind that only natural light can reveal. This light bombards the objects within the room, stripping away semblances and pretences to reveal true form.

In a traditional sense, Maresca’s interiors are figurative, not abstract. Yet he adds something to the reality he captures: he distills the flavor of a particular experience and preserves it in his paintings through his sensitivity to light and space. In “Love in the Afternoon,” light floods into a vast interior space, casting planes of shadow, establishing floor, wall, ceiling and the voluptuous air it contains in its emotional fullness. In a series of whimsical landscapes, color becomes the ruling element, defining atmosphere and establishing space. These landscapes flirt with the fantastical, and in “Frenchman’s Creek” in particular, an almost artificial brilliance of color contributes to a fairy-tale quality in the work. Warm ochres and greens compose a sylvan foreground which meets a thickly cerulean sky. The drama of this collision of color forces the foreground trees forward, toward the viewer. A playful treatment of color – a willingness to let it function independently of the representational nature of each painting – prevails in Maresca’s work.

Nancy Rutter’s paintings emanate warmth. Some depict navigable landscapes softened by the loose sweep of her stroke. Her vast simplification of color and form forces these works to occupy a captivatingly slippery space between abstraction and representation. In “Green Spring” a triangular form at one moment bridges foreground and background, receding into deep space, while the next moment it stands up, its whole form pressed against the picture plane to declare the canvas’s flatness and defy illusionistic space. Contributing to this sense that each shape rests on the surface of the picture is the pleasing recurrence of color – corals, apricots, gentle greens – throughout a single composition. Rutter’s most successful works straddle the divide between representational, referential painting, and non-referential painting. These elusive paintings offer the most dynamic spectatorial experience, challenging the viewer’s perceptual certainty.

Carrie Haddad Gallery is located at 622 Warren Street in Hudson, NY. Gallery hours are 11-5pm and the gallery is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. You can call the gallery at 518 828 1915 for directions or more information, or go online at

Madelon Jones

Elise Freda

Madelon Jones

Joseph Maresca

Nancy Rutter