Nathlie Provosty (b. 1981, Cincinnati, Ohio) is a visual artist based in Brooklyn, New York, whose work engages subtle, highly material qualities of oil paint which oscillate visually and conceptually through allusive, multi-referential imagery, a physical relationship with light and the environment, and a simultaneous use of shallow and deep space. Provosty studied painting and art history at Maryland Institute College of Art (BFA, 2004) and the University of Pennsylvania (MFA, 2007). Her paintings have been shown internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and were also included in Visionary Painting: Curated by Alex Katz, Colby Museum of Art, Waterville, ME (2017) and New Ruins, American University Museum, Washington D.C. (2017), and will be exhibited at the Kunsthall Stavanger, Norway (2018). Her work is included in the collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Colby Museum of Art, the Farnsworth Museum of Art, the Foundation VR D’afaux, the Museum of Modern Art, the Portland Museum of Art, the Rutter Family Collection, the Rubell Family Collection, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Nathalie Karg Exhibitions
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.