Elise Ansel | Pushing Painting at the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University

June 17, 2019 11:29 am Published by

Pushing Painting

Curated by Ian Alden Russell


Pushing Painting presents three concurrent exhibitions of new and recent work by painters living and working in New England. While differing in terms of subjects and techniques, the work of Elise Ansel, Nicole Duennebier and Duane Slick all demonstrate the vitality of contemporary painting in New England and the ever-present potential for the painted image to attract, engage and prompt reflection on how we view the world and our place within it.



Elise Ansel interprets historical paintings through the lens of contemporary practice. Using expressive, gestural brushwork, Ansel translates works by Old Masters, such as Caravaggio’s Conversion on the Way to Damascus, into dynamic, vibrant abstractions. In Emerald Light, the brushwork is almost palpable as it blurs the image of Melchior d’Hondecoeter’s Dead Bird beneath. While having the appearance of abstract paintings, her images maintain a fidelity to their sources through their colorful palettes which index the presence of the figures and scenes transcribed. In Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, a few deliberate and broad strokes of white make present the figures found in Édouard Manet’s composition. Often employing tools associated with photographic processes in conjunction with tropes in modern and contemporary painting, Ansel approaches her compositions as if she is creating photographic filters that shift our view of the historical paintings. Inscribing her gestural perspective overtop of those of the Old Masters both celebrates the original paintings and signals the possibility for points of view alternate to those traditionally associated with the dominant discourses around painting. Abstraction, for Ansel, allows her “to interrupt a one-sided narrative and transform it into a sensually capacious non-narrative form of visual communication that embraces multiple points of view.”

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