Originally conceived for the nave, apse and transept of a deconsecrated church, Neel’s new body of work explores themes of physicality, suffering, transformation, resuscitation, and redemption. Made in isolation on her family’s farm in rural Vermont, these works are influenced by the rawness of the natural environment and the dislocating reality of pandemic psychology.
The artist’s large-scale paintings on canvas extend her interest in the externalisation of physical and psychological experience via abstraction. Using a diverse vocabulary of mark-making tools, including fingers, rags, brushes, monoprinting techniques and rollers, Neel’s paintings are ripe with emotive lyricism suggestive of the correlative and repetitious cycles of daily life.
Analogous marks appear and reappear throughout her compositions–flat opaque swaths of white, extended droplets of paint, sweeping arches, and textural clouds of colour occupy the raw canvases as cooperative forces to build dynamic visual equations. These marks act as architectural or bodily supports, anchors for which to centre or contain forces of energy and movement that ripple through the paintings. Switching from vertical to horizontal, the marks act as points of reference and punctuations to orient the space of her compositions and to invite the viewer to absorb and consume their connections.
During Frieze London, Pilar Corrias will premiere LIMB AFTER LIMB, a short documentary about Elizabeth Neel and her paintings, directed by Andrew Neel, her brother. Having grown up under idiosyncratic circumstances with Alice Neel as her grandmother, Neel has a unique, complex, engaging, and at times fraught experience being an artist. This film explores Neel’s psychological, biographic, and intellectual relationship to her works. It is an investigation of the artist’s process with semiotics, mark making, composing and the emotional vicissitudes of her experiences as a painter, resulting in the life affirming paintings the artist produces, captured on film in this documentary for the very first time.