Critics’ Picks: Shannon Cartier Lucy

February 28th, 2020


5 East Broadway #402
January 18–March 8, 2020

In “Home is a crossword puzzle I can’t solve,” Shannon Cartier Lucy’s first New York solo show in roughly ten years, the artist offers up several oil-on-canvas tableaux in which reality feels porous and unburdened by logic. The work, sharp and subtly verist, is suffused with warm, muted tones; the space Lucy creates is one of deep loneliness—but one that is expansive enough to let us all in.

During her hiatus from exhibiting, Lucy became a licensed psychoanalyst, which may explain the well-wrought sense of unease the artist brings to her troubled human subjects and their uncanny settings. In Naptime, 2018, a woman lies beneath a translucent plastic dustcover on a bed. Other objects in the room are swaddled by the material, including a floor fan and a nightstand. Clothes in an open closet, perhaps fresh from the dry cleaner, are also shrouded by the stuff: The whole world of the painting is a sanitary spectacle tainted by something sinister. In another macabre image, Our New Home, 2017, three goldfish swim in a bowl sitting atop a stove’s lit burner—a scene of quiet tragedy likely caused by domestic delirium. In a beige-drowned canvas from 2019, a woman sits on a couch reading a book called Sex After Death—which also serves as the title of the painting. This work, in all its gloomy quietude, feels somehow hopeful—as if a gentler tomorrow might be possible after all.

All the ingredients that make up Lucy’s exhibition—love, longing, endless confusion—are familiar. As the show’s title suggests, the answers are there, but just out of reach. Living, alas, is not for the faint of heart.

— Wallace Ludel