Transforming Work

April 12, 2010

Pigeonholing an artist’s work with a word like abstract or figurative makes it easier to talk about, but often it gets in the way of understanding what the work is truly like. Alumnus Amy Sillman (BFA 1979 Fine Arts) makes big, action-packed canvases that seem to speak in boldly abstract tones, until one notices that the basic shapes and forms are clearly drawn from human figures. Or there will be an everyday object like a lightbulb that is thoroughly broken down and transformed, but not quite absent from the finished painting.

Sillman’s paintings will be on view in a new show with the whimsical title “Transformer (…or, how many lightbulbs does it take to change a painting?)” at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., 530 West 22nd Street. In a recent discussion with writer Rachel Wolff on, the artist talks about how her time at SVA helped “refocus her studies” and the ways she relates to her own work: “When you do these paintings for a while, sometimes you find that the world takes them more seriously than you do…To me they’re workaday surfaces; they’re not precious.” Sillman’s “Transformer” will be on view at Sikkema Jenkins April 15 – May 15.

Image: Amy Sillman, blue / rays, 2009. Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.

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