The new show, A Dangerous Idea, at the Chase Contemporary gallery in New York City’s Chelsea art district, opened for The Connor Brothers as their first solo exhibition in the United States.
The two artists, privately known as James Golding and Mike Snelle (aka: The Connor Brothers), have an alluring obsession for playfulness combined with star-like glamour and the tinge of loneliness that so often comes with celebrity status.
The majority of the works feature women posed for appeal as they are beautifully rendered in oils that expressively coat large canvasses with fines and style. Each frame is anchored by snarky one-liners from important female protagonists like Dorothy Parker, who is remembered as an early symbol of feminist camaraderie. These quotes, not entirely original to our day, take on a new aura as the spectator’s eye jumps back and forth between the represented figure, her posture, the colors that define the painting’s atmosphere, and then back to the quote as if inviting us in on some deeper encoded allegory.
To anyone lucky enough to attend Thursday’s opening reception at Chase Contemporary Gallery, there was one thing that needed no decoding: The Connor Brothers are a prolific and talented pair. With the ability to produce a variety of media, from large oil paintings, to hand-painted works on paper, to collage works in various sizes – this pair had no trouble at all filling the walls of this gallery with their work – of which were all produced last year, 2018. It is a clear sign that The Connor Brothers are here to stay and intend to claim a position in an ever-growing art market.
It is easy to imagine any one of these paintings hung inside the home of a heavy-hitter New York finance hustler who ruminates on the quote and on the painting’s aesthetic charm before going to close a big deal at the office. That’s just the kind of effect that is propelled by the show overall – a sense of strengthening the pride, sharpening the wit, and the subtle yet important stroking of the ego. It is perhaps the astute combination of these elements that define the success of people like Dorothy Parker – and whoever else is determined to carve their legacy into the cement of New York’s gilded halls.
The Connor Brothers’ style stands out as unique – despite a little bit of unacknowledged borrowing – and the opening was an absolute success with paintings gradually being sold to hungry collectors and art appreciators. Furthermore, despite there being no minority representation in their work, the paintings feel timely in an age when the championing of female representation, strength, and magnificence remains ever important.
On display through March 16.