For Justine Otto, It’s “All Shades, All Hues, All Blues”

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Hollis Taggart, NYC // February 15, 2024 – March 16, 2024

Hollis Taggart is pleased to present All Shades, All Hues, All Blues, the Hamburg, Germany-based Justine Otto‘s first solo show in New York City. In her latest body of work, Otto applies her innovative compositional approach and signature palette to a series of figures of musicians created through indeterminate forms and shapes emerging out of abstract backgrounds. Though more figurative than abstract, nothing is obvious about Otto’s figuration, with a total lack of clarity as to where a figure ends and an instrument begins, resulting in musicians and their instruments at times blending together into enigmatic compositions that confound the eye. Featuring eleven paintings and one sculpture created over the past two years, All Shades, All Hues, All Blues will be on view through March 16, 2024.

Otto’s figuration often nods to archetypes such as generals, cowboys, statesmen, or musicians. Following the successful inclusion of individual paintings by the artist in several group shows at the gallery, All Shades, All Hues, All Blues is the first time viewers in New York City can experience Otto’s brushwork and obscure portraiture as applied across an entire body of work. While Otto’s individual works are mesmerizing, the effect of seeing her technique applied across various images of one archetype is intoxicating. Taken together, the paintings in All Shades, All Hues, All Blues are a portrait of an orchestra, with Otto visualizing the experience of listening to music, masterfully capturing the motion of sound through her dynamic use of color and form. Puncturing her dark palette with brief moments of bright color, it is as if the viewer can pick out the beats or accents from the music generated by the paintings in the exhibition.

Otto’s visual language not only blends abstraction and figuration but is also heavily influenced by surrealism. In Otto’s orchestra, there is a proliferation of fingers and limbs so tangled that the harp in The Harpist might have a high-heeled foot; the flutist in Blower might have a dozen arms; or the strings might stretch across the painting as if the canvas itself is being played by the group of figures in Musica Contemporanea. As art critic and curator Mark Gisbourne notes in the catalogue accompanying the exhibition: “the pictured synthesis of the visual and the aural – of sound and image, musicians and music makers – has a long tradition in painting culture, […] a synthesis of sublimated facture Justine Otto the painter has uniquely mastered and made her own.”

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