Museum Translations, New Paintings and Drawings
The painter and sculptor Penny Kronengold, who, in her last couple of exhibitions has focused on bathers and swimming pools, has returned to the subject of the horse. First Street Gallery's press release states that her interest in the equine was renewed after seeing the glass-encased horses and figures of the "Hindu Gate," an installation of 17th- and 19th-century Indian sculptures at the Museum of Natural History, as well as spending time drawing from the Central Park carousel and the armored horses in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The results — oil paintings, sketchbook drawings, and two small terra-cotta sculptures — far from being academic studies, are a personal mixture of Redonesque fantasy, mythological conundrums, and military parade. The paintings' arches, foliage, banners, nudes, horses, and riders all shake cinematically with sketchy, quivering line, and their washy, translucent atmosphere and Bonnardworthy color give the works the feeling of watercolors more than of oil paintings.
Straight out of a fairytale, the horses, painted bright red, yellow, orange, or green, leap or rear or, seemingly merging with figures, transform themselves into lines of cabaret dancers. Some of the horses appear to fly, as if they had freed themselves from the battle, the carousel, the walls of Lascaux, or the reins of Apollo's chariot. Others, though they carry their riders with pomp and circumstance, feel like magical beings incapable of being mastered.
In the landscape "Fantasy 8" (2000–07), the prancing horses, one of which floats upside down, appear to be frolicking in the heavens. "Hindu Gate: Two Musicians and Horse" (2007), presents us with an orange interior in which a blue horse leaps through a floating doorway. The three horses and riders in "Armored Knights, Flags, and Arches" (2007), rupture forth as if from out of a starburst.
Ms. Kronengold's sources are evident in the paintings (some of the horses retain their medieval warriors and coats of arms or carousel poles). But despite their telltale signs, the pictures elude nameable places, periods, or events. The paintings and drawings carry us with their wonderfully fluid and fervent line, and they arrive here more as incantations — enchanted pageantries that have been let loose from the artist's mind.
— Lance Esplund