Within Reach: Jordan Casteel Opens First NYC Museum Show @ New Museum
It seems like a beautiful juxtaposition: one painter, in his mid-80's, and another, her just 30, both having their first NYC museum shows at the same time, at the same place. Peter Saul, the dazzingly bold poltical humorist and Jordan Casteel, the brilliant humanist, are both showing at the New Museum in NYC this Spring, but the comparisons pretty much stop here. Both are wonderful painters, but Casteel's moment seems to have arrived, where her talent to document and portray the lives of people she have lived around; whether in Harlem, at Yale, Rutgers, her ordinary day-in-the-life scenes are anything but. They are alive and almost serenely electric, in the vein of Alice Neel or Kerry James Marshall before her.
Within Reach is both an early but ideal survey and showcase for new works. The New Museum notes that the show brings together nearly forty paintings spanning her career, including works from "her celebrated series Visible Man (2013–14) and Nights in Harlem (2017), along with recent portraits of her students at Rutgers University-Newark."
The Museum also notes, "Casteel’s subjects, who are frequently black men looking directly at the viewer, are self-possessed and casually posed, but, as they stare in the distance, they also seem to ponder questions about masculinity and class, belonging and displacement. In the exchange of gazes between the sitters, the artist, and the viewers, her paintings blur impulses and aspirations to compose a nuanced portrait of daily life in the US."
Both Casteel and Saul's shows are must sees, both for their technical prowess but the breadth and range of two artists at different points in their careers. It's a special display, and lucky for viewers, that can see all in the same building.