Curt Hoppe: Downtown Portraits at Barnarducci Gallery + Howl! Happening



Top: Curt Hoppe with Self Portrait, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 70 inches

Barnarducci Gallery will open its doors to Downtown Portraits, an exhibition of large-scale monochrome (cut works), paintings by Curt Hoppe.

Hoppe (B.1950, St. Paul, MN) evolved as a cartoonist, photographer, and finally, hyper-realist painter in the hipster milieu of New York in the late 1970s, and never left the center of the subterranean ~ literally and figuratively ~ arts scene.

Susana Ventura (Penny Arcade), 2011, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 70 inches

The subjects here are peers, long-time downtown denizens ~ artists, critics, musicians, and other creative gadflies with names you will recognize, along with a few up-and-comers, including local workers and residents on track as the next idiosyncratic zeitgeist-influencers. In portraiture, the subject constitutes half of the artistic production and effect, and is paramount. Hope exploits his subjects’ power by choosing moments of public self-presentation, prior to the photographic sessions that undergird his methodological painting process. That includes compositional isolation and the reduction of color evocative photographic light ~ namely air-brush grisaille, to create stark character studies stripped of diversion.

Both precisely individualized and also suggestive of playing to type through gesture and sartorial semiotics, the portraits can recall early Cindy Sherman, as well as Chuck Close and Robert Longo in their colossal scale and medium. The near-silvery chiaroscuro can also suggest mirror reflections—ghostly stand-ins and doppelgängers hedging viewer space.  Collectively, as far as content, Hoppe conveys an absorption with the pleasures and vicissitudes of surface celebrity on the edge of the avant-garde.

Fred “Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 70 inches

Curt Hoppe: Downtown Portraits will be on view from April 25 through May 25, 2019, with an Opening Reception on Thursday, April 25, 2019 at Bernarducci Gallery, 525 West 25th Street in Chelsea, NYC.

In addition, an exhibition of black and white photographic portraits by Hoppe will be exhibited at Howl! (6 East 1st Street) from April 24 – May 21, 2019.