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 Marcia Haufrecht is a mature figurative painter, based in New York City, who turned to fine art after many years in the theater, performing and teaching acting. Some of her paintings are devoted to shadows stretched along the beach or street, and some are of people at their leisure: persons enjoying the quiet of a lake during summer in upstate New York. Sometimes, the colors and simplicity of the forms in Haufrecht’s paintings remind us of the work of Alex Katz, the venerable New York School artist; Haufrecht shares with him an ongoing respect for the figure and its place in the world. Ofen, the figure can be tied to narrative, to the telling of a story, but in Haufrecht’s case the real interest comes from formal concerns. The dark black of the shadow figures in her paintings is often contrasted with a bright background, which creates a functional tension that adds a lot to the picture’s interest.


Despite the fact that every generation announces the death of painting, the truth is that it will never die out as a genre. Painting is simply too deeply embedded in Western art history, and it is simply too attractive as a medium to be left to obscurity. We are now living in a time when intellectualism and high technology have taken over much of art, yet conceptualism and technical methodologies don’t yield the satisfaction to be found in a well-handled painting. Craft is part of the answer found in the slower, less overtly considered work of art, and Haufrecht has this in abundance. As time goes on, I think we will see qqmore painted art making its way to the forefront, largely because viewers want to connect again with the emotional implications of painting, rather than submit to ideas that can seem distant from the image and too abstract to explain.


Rota Lake (2015), one of the best pieces in the show, portrays two women resting on a wooden platform in the middle of a lake. One is sitting on the edge of the wooden planks, while another lies down on a towel. For a lot of New Yorkers, used to constant stress and fast urban speeds, this image may look nearly anachronistic given the recentness of its making. The short expanse of water in the middle of the composition is met by the reflection of mostly dark-green foliage and some grayish-purple stone at the top of the painting. The light is that of late afternoon (we can tell by the long shadows thrown by the women), the dusk beginning after a long leisurely swim. One is reminded of the fact that many artists have moved upstate, fleeing from the madly expensive prices of New York rents. Whatever the story behind the image may be, the image is one of contentment, quiet, solace.


Double Beach Shadow (2013) is a bit eerie, with long dark shadows stretched across sun-swept sand. Unlike the lake picture described above, here a strong contrast between brights and darks exist. The elongation of the two figures, both women, turns them into slightly witch-like creatures. They sprawl out on sand with small ridges; the painting is a study in differing textures and tones. Although the shadows are of course extended horizontally on the sand, it feels as if the women are standing. Enigmatic, formally complex, Double Beach Shadow is a complex study requiring extended looking. Lisbon Street Shadow (2010) is a wonderful study of a charcoal shadow holding a pattern above cobbled stone. The street maintains a pattern as well: blue-black pavement stones form a grid with circles at the interstices. An excellent painting of forms and textures, the Lisbon picture depicts a city quite different from the New York Haufrecht knows so well. Even so, her craft and imagination capture the different atmosphere, convincing her audience of the beauty of another town.


Jonathan Goodman


By Hyewon Yi

Shadows and Substance final revised_Page

"Shadows & Substance" ChaShaMa Gallery

by Hyewon Yi

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