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Review: Stephanie Upchurch at Shared Heritage

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Stephanie K. Upchurch, "Seated Upon The King's Throne"
  • Stephanie K. Upchurch, "Seated Upon The King's Throne"

Stephanie K. Upchurch: The Ceremonious Opening
Shared Heritage; through Jan. 18
(by appointment only; email info@sharedheritage.info at least one day in advance)

Upchurch’s exhibition consists mostly of large acrylic paintings, the majority executed on various cloths, and a couple of prints. These playful paintings have very thick, loose line structure and bring to mind Jean-Michel Basquiat’s artwork and the cover of Prince’s album 1999. Although these might sound like positive references, in this case they aren't. The artist bombards viewers with a barrage of odd signifiers that end up being hollow dead ends. The work is quizzically latent with Egyptian imagery that goes nowhere and ends up feeling bastardized. Metallic bubble wrap is added to the surface of one painting, giving it a cheap and garish quality.

We're left without a single word to inform viewers of the artist’s intent in The Ceremonious Opening; the absence of didactic material deals a crushing blow to an incoherent grouping of artwork that begs for justification. The only successful piece of art in this exhibition is also the only non-figurative work, “Seated Upon The King’s Throne,” which combines enticing hues of red, yellow and blue with the characteristic thick lines of the artist’s style and paint drips to form a very appealing visual plane. The aforementioned painting leads me to believe that the artist should stick to abstract work.

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