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Joan Semmel

Joan Semmel, Leg Up, 2020

A survey of recent paintings for the artist’s first one-person exhibition in Mexico at Morán Morán, Mexico City.

Morán Morán's press release follows:

Morán Morán is pleased to announce Joan Semmel’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and her first exhibition in Mexico City, which brings together a selection of the most compelling examples of her recent work. The twelve paintings in the show, all oil on canvas, span from 2018 to 2021 and vary in size from small to large scale, exemplifying a prolific time in her career as she prepared for her first retrospective held at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, on view through April 2022.

Each piece in this exhibition presents an architecture of female anatomy from a range of vantage points, sometimes sculpturally intimate and sometimes boldly visceral, translated through a painterly approach using an abstract palette. In one piece, titled Armed (2020), a violet shadowed and carefully executed hand and forearm helps to locate the rest of a pale green body that, without the representational appendage, might be mostly illegible. Another work, called Joined at the Hip (2021), depicts two bodies, or perhaps it is one body reflected. In this composition, one torso is fleshed in a realistic way, color-wise, and the other is darkly rendered in blue. This piece alludes to contrasts and dualities, both in the physical sense of light and shadow, but also in the metaphorical dichotomy of positive and negative.

Since the 1970s, Semmel has worked with imaging the female body, exploring every facet of its existence and perception, from erotic to stark realism, in a broad consideration of feminism as well as the singular experience of her own body. Throughout the decades, her depictions have served as a testament to female identity, sexuality, and the process of aging. Using loose brushstrokes and a full spectrum of vibrant colors, her works traverse a fleshy landscape of postures and proportions illuminating her practice of expressive feminist figuration. 

Joan Semmel (b. 1932, New York, NY) lives and works in New York. She received both her BFA and MFA from Pratt Institute, graduating in 1972. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Stadtgalerie Saarbrücken, Germany (2018); Jewish Museum, New York (2018); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2016); Brooklyn Museum, New York (2016); Dallas Contemporary, Texas (2016); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2014); National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC (2014); Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum, Germany (2013); and the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York (2013). Semmel’s work is in permanent collections at the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA;  The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Tate, London, United Kingdom; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, and many others.