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When Hope Atherton began exhibiting at Manhattan’s Sperone Westwater space and its Rome outpost, her sculptures and paintings were infused with a darkly Romantic sensibility and informed by mystic and literary references to Joris-Karl Huysmans, Thomas Hardy, and dusty displays in Victorian curiosity shops. Now Atherton is turning her attention to contemporary imagery that she culls from her travels. The series of new paintings Atherton presents at Chelsea’s Bortolami gallery beginning tomorrow might be directly inspired by snapshots she takes in Kenya, Trinidad, and elsewhere, but neither her updated source material nor the polished and buffed high-contrast technique she’s perfected make her imagery merely trendy. Instead, the canvases have the unnerving soft quality of random recollections and half-formed narrative clues.

Photo: Hope Atherton, “Danced For Any Celebration,” 2008. Courtesy of Bortolami Gallery.

Dept. of Culture