Classical portrait woman holding giant lizard
Ivan Pazlamatchev, "Cameo," 2021, oil on canvas, 30 x 24

On View: Iconic at WMOCA
July 1 – August 28, 2021
Presented by 33 Contemporary on Artsy
Curated by Steven Alan Bennett and Dr. Elaine Melotti Schmidt

Painting of a tall man in a city
Gayle Madeira, “Apollo of New York,” 2021, oil, 36 x 24

From the organizers:

In common speech, we normally use the adjective “iconic” to describe something that is extraordinary, superlative and desirable. “The Mona Lisa is iconic.” We might also use it to describe something that is famous, popular or representative of the best of one’s work, style or subject matter. “Picasso’s Guernica is iconic.” We might use the word to refer to something that has become so closely identified with an era or historic period that the mention of it conjures up a whole generation. Consider the photo of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square at the end of World War II or The Beatles crossing Abbey Road.

Abstracted portrait painting
Vakseen, “Seen,” 2021, acrylic on wood

Whichever way you understand it, “iconic” is meant to convey something that is bigger than a single theme, subject or idea and that goes beyond the ordinary in terms of the author’s execution and capability. It is closely related to the idea of “classic” and “extraordinary” but, in itself, it is not bounded by a particular idea or set of principles or one way of seeing.

Painting of a woman in lingerie
Suzy Smith, “The Fall of Man,” 2020, oil, 36 x 24

Iconic is bigger than that and calls upon the practitioner to reach beyond the ordinary and to stretch to the very limits of their capability. Thus, this show seeks new and previously unseen work that demonstrates what each artist thinks would be iconic for them or their work, using any of the definitions above. The show does not seek “icons” in the religious sense, although an artist is certainly free to submit a religious icon if that is their idea of “iconic” for them.

Abstracted portrait painting
Marcus Callum, “Comtesse,” 2020, oil on aluminum panel, 38.5 x 49.5
Figurative art
Lisa Keay, “The Dreamer’s Guardian,” 2021, oil on aluminum, 28 x 33
Contemporary portrait painting of a woman
Grant Gilsdorf, “Middle Fingers Up,” 2021, oil on linen, 14 x 18
Figurative art painting of a man
Alessandro Tomassetti, “Policy of Truth,” 2021, oil on aluminum, 14 x 18

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