Rather than overcomplicate the iconic ritual that is the summer group show, curator Paul Efstathiou and Hollis Taggart Galleries pare it down to the essentials: a collection of artists they believe in. There is no underlying thematic premise to be found in Highlight: Summer One; just works by innovative painters whose careers lie between the emerging and established artist stages.
“As I was brainstorming this show, I found that I kept channeling the word ‘highlight.’ I had artists in mind, but didn’t have a theme. Galleries tend to feel pressure to have a theme,” tells Efstathiou to The Creators Project. “But for me, Highlight was about the art. It is about great, interesting art made by talented, interesting artists.”
Between looking at Matt Mignanelli's orderly and hyper-geometric pattern paintings, or Devin Troy Strother's chaotic mixed-media assemblages, Highlight: Summer One is an experiential roller coaster. The tight cohesion one might expect of a group exhibition gives way to a series of works that require completely different mindsets to approach, almost acting as their own individual micro-exhibitions. The show could be considered an antithesis to online image viewing culture through its emphasis on the singular appreciation of a work in opposition to the monolithic scroll of images we deal with every day.
Despite the idiosyncrasies of the works on view, the included artists do share a particular characteristic: “The premise for Highlight: Summer One was to highlight artists of a certain ilk. There is a time and a place for a really thoughtful, comprehensive retrospective of an established artist. There is also a time to showcase new talent,” adds Efstathiou.
“Highlight is about showing off gutsy, cool painters who are pushing the boundaries of art in 2016. We need to be pushed in order to grow. That is what art is about. That’s why it enriches us. That’s why it has the power to change the way we think.”
The exhibition marks Efstathiou’s first venture into curating after working more than 10 years as an art dealer. The shift from art distribution to show preparation seems to have suited him: “The experience was exhilarating, challenging, inspiring, hopeful, and energetic. I started with a vision of putting on an energetic, refreshing group show that was smart and sophisticated by fun, and I think the energy in the gallery on the opening night was just that.”
Highlight: Summer One will be on view at Hollis Taggart Galleries until September 2, 2016.