Nathlie Provosty (b. 1981, Cincinnati, Ohio) is a New York City-based visual artist whose work is engaged with materiality and perception. Provosty uses subtle, highly tactile qualities of oil paint that oscillate visually and conceptually according to the painting’s multi-referential imagery, physical interaction with light & the environment, and continuous spacial shifts. Her first solo exhibition in New York opened in 2012 at 1:1, an experimental artist-run gallery in the East Village. She has since exhibited work nationally and internationally including the Risorgimento Museum in Turin, Italy (2018-19) and Nathalie Karg Gallery in New York (2018, 2016), among others. Group exhibitions include Peter Freeman in New York (2019); Kunsthall Stavanger, Norway (2018); Colby Museum of Art, ME, curated by Alex Katz (2017); and Washington University Museum, DC (2017). Works are currently on view at SFMoMA’s Open Ended: Painting and Sculpture 1900 to Now.
Nathalie Karg Exhibitions
June 25 - August 9, 2019
February 28, 2018 - April 15, 2018
March 30 - May 15, 2016
My Pupil is an Anvil, Nathlie Provosty’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, introduces the artist’s newest body of work: five large paintings and several smaller pieces. The title indicates a play on words and vision. A pupil is the dark circular opening in the iris of the eye that allows light in, but it is also a student. An anvil is an iron metalworking tool upon which objects are struck and shaped, but it is also a small bone in the ear that registers vibrations. Both the pupil and anvil are tasked to receive and respond in force.
How does the pupil, delicate organ that it is, perceive form and color? These paintings investigate this question by making form and color suggest one thing while evoking another. While they may initially appear monochromatic, deeply layered tones and shapes reveal themselves the longer one looks. Black pigment dissolves into earth tones; Shades of lemon yellow and peach emerge from beneath white paint. The austere, curved lines have a mechanical meter, yet are drawn by hand. The shapes within recall letters, numbers, and other signs, yet willfully signify nothing. The image exists neither in the painting nor the pupil, but in the unresolved space in between. Provosty’s work posits a nuanced concept of vision, testing how the material itself—oil paint on linen—communicates, never assuming that the mind sees what the eye perceives.
Provosty’s booklet includes an essay by the writer Brian O’Doherty.
Nathlie Provosty has recently gained critical acclaim for subtle, highly sensual, abstract oil paintings that oscillate in appearance between word forms, possible body fragments, and moving images. The artist’s frequent use of dark colors stems from an interest in the peripheral territories of visual perception. Taking this source one step further, she describes the paintings as emitting “inaudible sound”—sound that we can feel though not hear. Visible color occupies just a small region of the entire electromagnetic spectrum, within which simultaneous but invisible vibrations are always present. Similarly, only close attention to the paintings and the movement of light and space within and around them can render their noiseless sound palpable. The New York Times critic Roberta Smith has written that the artist “effectively complicates the perceptual mysteries of Ad Reinhardt’s Black Paintings with her own sense of scale, atmosphere and material punch. This is no mean feat.”
Provosty’s first publication includes a revealing essay by the writer Jarrett Earnest and a substantial showcase of works dating from 2012–2016.