Jesse Chapman’s painting of the struggle to stick a contact into an eye, “The Lens” (2009), strikes me as an apt allegory for recent painting. It is one of the gems from Exit Art’s shinning survey of contemporary painting, NEW MIRRORS: Painting in a Transparent World, that is set to close this weekend.
Much like this uncomfortable morning ritual, painting is caught in an awkward moment. Like the nearsighted allegory looking in the mirror, it is keenly self-aware of its need for a new way of seeing and a new lens through which to gaze. With scowling lips, it begrudgingly prepares for the many vain attempts it takes on a rough morning (or try a rough decade) to get that lens in properly.