Illusion; the picturesque; disillusion; these are all themes that painter/installation artist Ellen Harvey adopts in a practice that combines figurative painting with the trickery of mirrors.
Although Harvey is no newcomer to the New York art scene, it's only in recent years that her work has begun to receive widespread attention (a status certainly boosted by inclusion in the 2008 Whitney Biennial).
An early project, the 'Beautify New York' campaign (1999-2001) involved the artist creating tiny, romanticised vignettes - landscapes etc - in neglected city streets, and the idea of beauty as something elusive or even illusory continues to dominate her work.
The first installation in Harvey's ongoing Museum of Failure project uses a mirrored wall to almost completely block a view of paintings hung behind it (above).
The wall itself is engraved with a simplified view of a 19th century-style salon, complete with plethora of (empty) frames. One cut-out space allows a glimpse of what lies beyond.
A more recent addition to the series provides the illusion of a Room of Sublime Wallpaper (left).
Approaching the work, a wall covered in newsprint appears to be hung with romantic mountain landscapes. In fact, the individual 'works' are mirrors, each reflecting a segment of larger paintings initially hidden from view.
Daniel Lefcourt's work has undergone numerous transformations in the last few years, but if we were forced to locate a signature in his style, we'd plump for his fascination with the colour black.
In his debut 2004 show, paintings of coal-black boulders on pale grounds combined abstract and figurative form (left).
In a series of works produced in 2006, Lefcourt appeared to embrace abstraction entirely with minimalist pieces consisting of black stripes on MDF (below).
These works, however, have a narrative basis, inspired by newspaper reports of a scandal regarding the diversion of funds to a cultural institution.
The black slats and lines recall censored information, their colour a literal interpretation of scored-out text, and symbolic, too, of paradoxic absence and presence.
As Lefcourt himself has stated, "If there is meaning provided by these artworks it is only in that they are signs of an absence Ð they are evidence of that which has been displaced, negated, substituted or denied."
Lefcourt's fascination with black and its qualities of imposition and negation continues, with recent works consisting of sequential variants of striated black on simple board panels (below).
Powerful and dramatic, Lefcourt's art aligns minimalism with unexpected, underlying meaning.
Rashawn Griffin, who first gained widespread recognition in the 2008 Whitney Biennial, uses diverse media including drawing, painting, collage and assemblage to create intimate works that hint at biographical narrative.
Many of these combine found objects and personal items - often textiles - into pieces that operate not only as personalised tapestries, but as beautifully balanced compositions that surpass the humble elements of their construction.
The resultant oscillation between readings is perhaps most noticeable in Griffin's characteristic screen-like structures, which vacillate between image, installation and sculpture.
Redefining space architecturally as well as emotionally, their dominant presence is nevertheless offset by the simplicity of everyday materials and self-evident manufacture.
Griffin's careful interplay of technique and intention results in large-scale artworks that are unassuming yet imposing in equal measure.
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