The winter group show “Tulips” at the Kapp Kapp gallery gets its title from the Sylvia Plath poem about the arrival of a get-well bouquet of red tulips whose vividness she found distracting, even menacing.
In this bright gallery — presumably as white as Plath’s hospital room — brilliantly colored paintings by Alicia Adamerovich, Anthony Cudahy, Sam McKinniss, Justin Liam O’Brien, and Luke O’Halloran stand out the same way.
But the subject matter here is contemplative, more in keeping with the peace and quiet Plath describes before the tulip invasion.
Cudahy’s paintings of solitary male figures lost in thought are rendered in a Kodachrome palette. His mostly yellow painting Bluefeet (2019) captures a man sitting barefoot outdoors in a private, meditative moment.
Adamerovich’s surreal, undulating landscapes are populated by mysterious creatures. O’Brien’s pensive nudes recall figures from Diego Rivera’s murals and are based on his friend Daniel Rampulla’s black-and-white photographs.
O’Halloran’s painting of slot-machine cherries inspired McKinniss to paint cherries, too, but his work copies Henri Fantin-Latour’s mouthwatering Cherries painting circa 1883. These two small canvases are displayed side-by-side and couldn’t be more different.
Through Jan. 25 at Kapp Kapp, 333 S. 13th St., noon-6 p.m. Wed.-Sat., 215-309-5315, kappkapp.com
Wife-and-husband collaborators Kocot and Hatton (Marcia Kocot and Tom Hatton) give themselves intriguing conceptual challenges. For their new show “Thoughts,” at Larry Becker Contemporary Art, they’ve come up with one of their best yet.
The 25 paintings here represent their sensations of particular colors, and responses to those colors — but all the works are rendered in white acrylic paint.
There is some logic to this effort when you take into account that each work is named for a pigment used in paint: Helios Purple, Scheveningen Orange, Malachite Green, Madder Lake Deep, and others. It’s likely that Kocot and Hatton are referencing artworks by others that employed a specific hue.
Looking at the thin vertical lines and right-veering diagonal lines in Antwerp Blue (sd 8 Oct 2019), I immediately thought of Van Gogh’s 1889 painting Rain in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection. Van Gogh lived in Antwerp briefly before moving to Paris to join his brother, which seems like a clue. I’m happy to imagine that one of the blues in Rain could have been the Antwerp Blue pigment, concocted by a German chemist around 1704.
A curtain-like, vertical section of thinly applied white in Venetian Red (sd 24 Feb 2019) made me think of Susan Rothenberg’s semi-figurative paintings, especially her all-red ones.
I’m still pondering Cadmium Green Light (20 Jun ’18), named after the perfect hue for a newly unfurled leaf. No particular artwork has come to mind, but its allover diagonal gashes of white do suggest a blustery March day.
As in past series, the artists worked separately on individual paintings but consulted as the pieces came together.
Through Feb. 15 at Larry Becker Contemporary Art, 43 N. 2nd St., 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Fri. and Sat., 215-925-5389, artnet.com/galleries/larry-becker-contemporary
The Clay Studio, founded in Old City in 1974, is scheduled to break ground Wednesday, Jan. 15, for a new building at 1425 N. American St. in South Kensington, near Crane Arts. Its first exhibition there is scheduled for spring 2021. For now, shows continue at the current space, 137-139 N. Second St.
Meanwhile, Fleisher/Ollman Gallery is exhibiting the last show at its Arch Street building before relocating to a new space at 915 Spring Garden St., likely to open sometime this June.
The current Fleisher/Ollman show runs through Jan. 25 and is one of the season’s must-sees, with astounding works by the self-taught Germantown artist Kambel Smith, whose large-scale recreations of famous Philadelphia architecture exploded onto the national art scene at last January’s Outsider Art Fair in New York City.
The familiar sites in this solo show — his first in Philadelphia — include the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Ben Franklin Bridge, and Independence Hall.