New York, 541 West 24 Street
For her first solo exhibition with the Gallery, Wachtel continues to explore the relationship between the viewer, collective memory and reference, and the constant stream of visual information that defines contemporary experience. Wachtel culls images from the multitude of available sources (including online stock illustrations and her own iPhone photographs) and then, like a poet arranging words into lines into non-grammatical yet expressive verse, she manipulates, splices, shuffles, and juxtaposes the images to construct a distinctive visual language.
The component images of Wachtel’s paintings are reproduced on canvas panels by either hand painting or screen printing. This correlation of opposites is found again in her use of abstraction and representation, line drawing and photography, digital platforms and print media, the sentimentally comical and the confoundingly mundane. While the viewer seeks coherence, the paintings want to break apart. Wachtel’s subject is this resolution: the artists’ challenge of picture making.
Synthesizing the Pop embrace of mass culture subjects with her own Pictures Generation penchant for appropriation, Julia Wachtel began exhibiting in New York’s East Village in the 1980s. Recently her work has been featured in the 2018 Hirshhorn Museum exhibition Brand New: Art and Commodity in the 1980s and the Whitney Museum’s 2017 overview of selections from the collection Fast Forward: Paintings from the 1980s. A survey exhibition of her work was presented by the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2014.