Painting by Proxy


Project: ARTspace is proud to present “Painting by Proxy”, showcasing large work by Ellen Hackl Fagan, Stephen Maine, and the collaborative duo Anoka Faruqee and David Driscoll.

PAINTING BY PROXY on view Sept. 13 – Dec. 17, 2021

Project: ARTspace 99 Madison Ave 8th Fl. NYC

Viewing hours: Mon–Fri 11–5 PM

Artist reception: Thurs Sept. 23 from 5:30 – 7:30 PM

Anoka Faruqee and David Driscoll 2019P-27 (Circle) acrylic on linen on panel 56” x 56” 2019


Painting by Proxy features artists who share elimination of the hand-made mark from the physical fabrication of their paintings, deploying instead an idiosyncratic, mechanical device, tool, or objects acting as proxy. Collaboration with chance allows their images to appear as if without author, exhaling some sense of a larger context beyond individual consciousness, and leaving behind a whiff of the sublime. Large-scale paintings are presented in the intimate space of the gallery, amplifying the sensory impact of their work, and engulfing the viewer in their optical sorcery. 

The question Painting by Proxy raises is why harnessing some intermediary agent and invoking chance to make a painting can produce a sense of the ineffable. Does the focus of these four artists on mesmerizing color intensity, pattern, and repetition invoke a portal to a heightened state of awareness in which we suspend rational thought, and sense an intangible realm beyond our comprehension and control? By delegating the application of paint, favoring de-centralized composition, and reveling in hallucinatory color, something beyond the “self” creeps in. Painting by Proxy affords a glimpse of the sublime offered up with visceral materiality and potent visual pleasure. 

                                                                                                                                                       Joan Grubin, curator


Seeking the Sound of Cobalt Blue_Beach Walk (detail) ink, pigment, acrylic on museum board 108” x 60” 2018



Ellen Hackl Fagan makes her paintings by pouring paint around the forms of commonplace, mass-produced objects placed on large wet sheets of paper – little fruit cartons, fragments of floor tile, bubble wrap – and letting the paint perform autonomously as it reacts to the objects. Ghostly traces of forms and patterns floating in a universe of her signature mesmerizing color, a pure cobalt blue, give her work an elegiac air. Fagan says:  “I call this ‘blind’ painting. For me, it’s the “not knowing” that moves me forward”.





                  P18-1001 acrylic on canvas 80” x 100” 2018



Stephen Maine’s paintings are born of a makeshift printing process of his own invention: a jury-rigged contraption that conveys paint to canvas by means of textured surfaces that, functioning like printing plates, are pressed onto the painting’s surface. Flaunting vibrant contrasting color, the resulting distribution of arbitrary splotches and blobs promotes a ravishing opticality in camouflage-like fields, while removing all signs of hands-on expressive mark-making. Through this dialogue between control and chance conjured through mechanical reproduction, the paintings embody qualities of “nature” that seem to come into being willy-nilly, without artifice or self-conscious striving.




         2019P-17 (Circle) acrylic on linen on panel 45” x 45” 2019


The paintings of Anoka Faruqee and David Driscoll leave one in a state of pleasurably disorienting bewilderment, wondering by what possible means such baffling perceptual phenomena could have arrived on the surface. Revealing the process does not diminish the sense of wonder: initially using a common hardware store tool, they now have a range of custom-made toothed rakes which they drag repeatedly through wet paint deploying a DIY rig to guide the rake. With each pass through an application of pigment, they shift the placement of the tool slightly, let the new layer of paint dry, then sand it down to fuse the accumulated layers into a single smooth surface.

Referencing at once ancient low-tech traditions of weaving as well as digital computer technology, Faruqee and Driscoll produce paintings that summon a universe beyond human touch or comprehension, which are rescued from a too austere perfection by tell-tale oozings of pigment around the sides of the canvas, and disruptive slippages of registration left within the images. It is both this reaching beyond the human realm and falling back to earth, making magic and interrupting that magic that move us in these paintings.



For more information on the artists, visit: