How is it possible that Shawn McNulty and Tara Costello have never shown together?
The two have been part of the Rosalux collective since seemingly forever—McNulty is actually a founding member—and their artistic auras are so cosmically intertwined that their paintings often feel like brother-and-sister twins separated at birth.
Could it be that there’s something dangerous about gathering them in the same gallery space? Some threat to the space-time continuum? Something….supernatural?
Because with Flashing Red, McNulty’s and Costello’s first-ever shared exhibition, the two Rosalux old-schoolers work like psychics at a séance. They’re raising the ghost of Abstract Expressionism.
Costello is Ad Reinhardt reincarnated as femme fatale, sexing up her black-on-nearly-black mindscapes with cat-scratch abrasions and notes of blood red. The surfaces of her works aren’t slick and smooth; Costello layers Venetian plaster with raw pigment, allowing pools and drips to harden into bumps and scars. The texture provides a nice mental grip-ability. It keeps the meditative works from dissolving into pure emotion.
And speaking of texture, McNulty’s paintings are chunky massacres of acrylic and pumice. Working exclusively with large, commercial-grade palette knives, he smears thick layers of color onto his surfaces, then chops and scrapes at them until he’s got a complexly battered topography. Critic Camille LeFevre once famously dubbed McNulty a Pollock-Rothko “love child,” merging the abstract color field paintings of the one with the action-splatters of the other. But McNulty’s technique feels too violent for love. I’d call him a Pollock-Rothko fistfight.
Flashing Red: New Works by Tara Costello and Shawn McNulty
Opening reception Saturday, April 7, 7–11 p.m.
Rosalux Gallery, 1400 Van Buren St. NE, #195, Mpls. rosaluxgallery.com