Fabrics, Acrylics, and Ambiguous Abstraction

'Thick as Thieves,' the curiously- and evocatively-titled second exhibition of new works by New York City-based artist Amanda Valdez in two years at the Lower East Side's Denny Gallery, finds her further exploring a particular combination of media:  the incorporation of fabrics into the practice of abstract painting, arguably providing for a direct, but welcome, continuity from last year's notable 'Taste of Us.'


Mirror Mirror, 2014, Fabric, acrylic paint, black gesso, and canvas, 72 x 60 in.  Photo courtesy of Denny Gallery, New York.

Valdez, a Seattle native, and BFA and MFA graduate from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Hunter College, respectively, has interestingly demonstrated quite a distinct and uniform overall aesthetic with regard to her artistic output.  The works on display in ‘Thieves’ could almost be mistaken for belonging in any of Valdez’s past exhibitions, the likeness to illustration, her preoccupation with semi- or ambiguously-abstract shapes, a proclivity for employing gouache and a limited assortment of mostly basic colors, dripping acrylics, and as mentioned, assorted fabrics sewn into the canvas, all feature variably in most of her exhibited work to date.


Thick as Thieves, 2014, Fabric, acrylic paint, black hess, and canvas, 58 x 66.25 in.  Photo courtesy of Denny Gallery, New York.

Nevertheless, ‘Thieves’ also features a handful of small sculptures which stray far enough away from Valdez’s almost-uniform aesthetic in marked contrast, greater variations in the sizes of the paintings, the application of ever more complex embroideries and patterns, and the employment of a wider variety of colors both overall and individually amongst the works.


Sapling Love, 2014, Gouache, acrylic, embroidery, and canvas, 18 x 20 in.  Photo courtesy of Denny Gallery, New York.


she’s mine, 2014, Fabric and embroidery, 24 x 20 in.  Photo courtesy of Denny Gallery, New York.

It will be of interest to see how an artist such as Valdez, who has managed to carve out and establish a style and aesthetic and a set of works unmistakably her own in the span of her first two solo exhibitions, will negotiate with having achieved and inherited such a distinctive quality to her work, and how that will inform and influence the course of her future work.

Amanda Valdez:  Thick as Thieves will be on display at Denny Gallery at 261 Broome Street, New York, NY 10002 through October 19th, 2014.

- Arthur Ivan Bravo