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  • Design Credit: Samantha Todhunter Design Ltd., Photo Credit: Oliver Clarke. Dimensions: H 23.50 in. x W 18 in.
  • Design Credit: Lucy Harris Studio, Photo Credit: Francesco Bertocci. Dimensions: H 23.50 in. x W 18 in.
  • Design Credit: Timothy Godbold, Photo Credit: Karl Simone. Dimensions: H 23.50 in. x W 18 in.
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Joel Handorff
Painting of bouquet of flowers on rice paper: 'Chinese Red'

2018

$1,800

About

‘Starting with a drawing of "real" flowers, I create layers of thinly veiled surfaces. They become abstracted through the process of multiple printings. The essence of flowers becomes the subject—they bring to mind all of the flowers I have ever seen and all the ones I have seen in great works of art. They are a reflection, a kind of magic mirror, defying traditional paintings of flowers.’ As Handorff explains, “the Magic Mirror is about creating a style that is seen and not seen. These new paintings explore aspects of transparency. The works are created with embroidered templates, which are then placed upon materials of varying degrees of opacity and translucence. Paint is pounded onto the surface created by these templates, generating multiple images that reflect the original.” The resulting images are reflections of themselves: ghost images. The pieces are displayed in idiosyncratic fashion, sometimes breaking from the wall. In a way, they are performances in action. For Handorff, the idea of transparency in his work goes back to earlier pieces that were painted on the backs of Plexiglas sheets, in other words, the images were painted in reverse. The idea of Magic Mirror is connected to a sense of community in various ways. First of all, it is an allegory of the East Village scene of the 80s, a rich period of experimentation and multiple styles that all but disappeared soon after it began…a sort of vanishing world, which created a legacy. Also, the term Magic Mirror emerged as a moniker during spontaneous drawing sessions in Handorff’s apartment. Artist friends first started drawing portraits of each other, to later incorporate writing into the pictures, and eventually leading to two or more friends drawing and painting on the same work. The output of these get-togethers, documented on social media and archived in sketchbooks at Handorff’s apartment, created a body of work that in retrospect reveals a common meshing and influence of artist friends on each other. For Handorff in particular, these explorations transformed his work and also offered the added advantage of perceiving himself as an artist in a novel way—one who is not competitive or concerned with authorship. This makes the work transcendental, giving the artist the freedom to create a body of work that explores the magical aspect of artmaking under the umbrella of artistic community, giving the confidence and freedom of a deeper sense of art. The process for these paints started in the drawing sessions, where the collaborative experience fed the dynamism of the pieces in the studio. The dream flowers melt and fold into a mysterious space. If you look at these works, at the materials themselves, some emerge while others disappear. The important part of these works is what is not seen…rather what is suggested within the natural world of flowers. Surfaces mix and match with overlays. In the end, they are not representations of flowers per se, but vessels of the essence of a flower in itself. The Magic Mirror is about transcendence, a sort of Plato’s cave in which the shadows are indicators of a greater reality. Joel Handorff is a New York-based artist who has exhibited widely and is included in many collections including the Weisman Art Museum. In the 1980s he participated in the East Village art scene as artist, curator, and gallerist, running Dramatis Personae. He has exhibited at the Terry Dintenfass Gallery, Harm Bouckaert Gallery, and MoMA PS1. His work has been reviewed by Vivien Raynor of the New York Times and Theodore Wolff of the Christian Science Monitor. In 2012, he received a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant. His work was exhibited at the Leslie-Lohman Museum’s seminal Interface show, which was curated by Walter Cessna, as well as the Jonathan Weinberg-curated Painting to Survive show at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition.

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