The painter Elizabeth Murray selected the following four artists to participate in this 1985 exhibition: Margrit Lewczuk, Lizbeth Marano, Dona Nelson and Jenny Snider. Though their artistic practices are distinct, each works in related idioms – a reconciling or reclaiming of gestural abstraction, redeployed in the service of representation. This painterly mode cannot be separated from the critical language that surrounded Abstract Expressionism, language which surfaces as well in Murray’s text: “truth,” the “problem,” the “struggle.” About the exhibition she writes, “It is art that is being made because each artist has felt she must make it to have an identity.”
It is precisely the work’s figuring of identity that constitutes its progressive core. The uneasy charge of the rhetoric is neutralized by weird sensibilities and a tendency toward humor. A perplexing painting by Jenny Snider, It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie (1985), features those words super-titled above two faceless figures situated in a cakey haze, broken by two rough perspectival lines. The proclamation shames the viewer, vaguely, at the same time that it embarrasses the painting vis-à-vis its own truth-telling claims.