Samantha Rosenwald: Christie’s @ Room 57 Gallery, NYC
In approaching the dogmas of art history there is a perceived levity in creating art with a colored pencil, an interesting dichotomy within such a multifaceted but popular tool. As a historical artifact, we could look back to Pliny the Elder (not the beer, of course), who noted that the event the Romans used colored crayons based on wax, but it wasn’t until 1834 with the Staedtler company that what we know as the colored pencil was invented. Why these anecdotes are important is that in the works of Samantha Rosenwald, showing at Room 57 Gallery in NYC this winter with her solo show Christie’s, the colored pencil is used as both a historical tool and historical commentary.
She uses the colored pencil as a tool of observation, and in a recent interview noted that she “also think(s) of colored pencils as sort of performative… it feels more belabored and painful in the act of trying to achieve something that is maybe referential to the old masters or referential to a more standard mode of painting using a medium that’s childlike.” That balance between what is known as a masterwork, coupled with the act of channeling a childhood ambition and impulse is powerful here, and Rosenwald captures that unique essence. The Los Angeles-based artist also seems to be having a lot of fun color-penciling dark and absurd worlds, with the painstaking detail of an oil painting. On our list of artists to watch, Rosenwald is near the top, and here we are, witnessing her at her sharpest point. —Evan Pricco