Blue, green, yellow, red—these crowd-pleasing colors get all the attention. But for the past decade, the New York-based artist Amy Feldman has dedicated her practice to exploring the possibilities of an often under-appreciated hue: gray. The artist wants to show us that, contrary to popular sentiment, gray can be mysterious, luminous, funny, and even playful.
Working from her studio in Brooklyn, Feldman creates large, multi-layered paintings with a trick up their sleeve. What we notice about these works reveals the limits of our own perception. From far away, they look digitally rendered, but up close, they reveal intricate line work, brush strokes, and hand-executed prints.
Feldman’s exhibition “Goodnight Light,” on view until November 26 at Eva Presenhuber in Zurich, presents the latest installment of her exploration. With silkscreen details, fingerprints, brash brushstrokes, and cartoonish elements, the works offer an uncanny, unusual encounter with optimism and depth mined from the otherwise gloomy hue.
Can you send us a snap of the most indispensable item in your studio and tell us why you can’t live without it?
Sharpies. I make a lot of drawings in magic marker to lay the groundwork for my paintings. Drawing is the root of my practice.
What is a studio task on your agenda this week that you are most looking forward to?
Organizing and archiving.
What kind of atmosphere do you prefer when you work? Do you listen to music or podcasts, or do you prefer silence? Why?
When I am painting, I prefer a song on repeat or the sounds of the night.
Is there a picture you can send of your current work in progress at the studio?
Attached is a detail of a work that I silkscreened, but have not yet applied paint.
When you feel stuck while preparing for a show, what do you do to get unstuck?
I go to a museum.
What trait do you most admire in a work of art? What trait do you most despise?
Presence. Political content for politics’ sake—if a work is of the moment, it doesn’t need to be didactic.
What images or objects do you look at while you work? Share your view from behind the canvas or your desktop—wherever you spend the most time.
I pin up a collection of reference material on the wall behind my desk. I also have a couple favorite paintings hanging, made by my husband, Zach Bruder, and some of collaborations with our daughter. I look out of the window quite often and recently had been spending a lot of time with the model for my exhibition in Zürich at Galerie Eva Presenhuber.
What is the last exhibition you saw that made an impression on you and why?
“The Red Studio” at MoMA. Walking through the galleries felt like finding hidden treasure. The exhibition was focused, powerful, and beautifully composed. It tweaked my imagination, providing a view into the artist’s studio, and a new light on an important painting.
What made you choose this particular studio over others?
The space was my friend’s storage. About 10 years ago, I was looking for a studio that I could live and work in and I liked the size and location. It was pretty raw at the time without windows, skylights, a kitchen, or bathroom, but it had nice bones. The promise of watching the sunset over the harbor every night felt worth the effort to renovate.
Describe the space in three adjectives.
Bright, breezy, maritime.
How does the studio environment influence the way you work?
Since the studio is also my home, it allows me to work whenever I want—a helpful recharge to link both.