The exhibition will focus on Mimi Gross’s early paintings and works on paper. They are portraits of her friends, family, and acquaintances in the communities she lived in and traveled through, from the Lower East Side of Manhattan to Florence, Italy.
Gross considers portraiture a form of mutual collaboration. Her paintings have a poignant expressiveness and connection to the subject. Hers is a world of bold, unapologetic color. In this way it looks back to Fauvist painting, and German expressionism. The directness of Gross’s portraiture, and her propensity to paint all aspects of her community (neighbors, acquaintances, and significant members of the art world) can be linked in particular to the work of Alice Neel. Neel was a close friend and supporter of Gross’s work, and she painted Gross and Red Grooms (who was Gross’s husband and artistic collaborator from 1960-76) in two double portraits. Like Neel, Gross is after an essential, emotional likeness, captured through gestural immediacy.
In her works on paper, Gross uses oil crayon and chalk pastel, which remains a favored, signature medium for the artist. The pastel and oil crayon medium lends itself to a direct, unfussy approach. Her crayon drawings, said to been an influence on Bob Thompson, feel relevant in relation to contemporary artists such as Katherine Bradford and Tal R.