Review: Nancy Murphy Spicer, Page Bond Gallery


Nancy Murphy Spicer's "You Always Overdo It"  (2016) Acrylic on canvas 72 x 60 inches.
  • Nancy Murphy Spicer's "You Always Overdo It" (2016) Acrylic on canvas 72 x 60 inches.

"Hiding in Plain Sight" is a group of seven paintings by Nancy Murphy Spicer that confront visitors with tongue-in-cheek statements, including “Why” or “Luck,” written in large handwritten print.

Each painting is made by layering thin washes of paint and all include a statement, with the exception of the diptych, “Untitled (green with loops),” and the smallest work, “Scrambled Head” (both 2017). While some words in the paintings are legible, others are obscured by large swaths of organic forms, thereby forcing visitors to look at the title for the full statement.

There is a pleasantness to the color palette, comprised of mostly warm and vibrant colors, that belies the confrontational air of some statements like “You always overdo it.” While “I have no idea” seems offhanded and flippant, “These are not just words” brings with it a sense of gravitas that summons broader undertones of language and its implications. Yet simultaneously, because of their quick gestural paint stroke and garish color combinations, the works have a cartoonish quality. Spicer makes clear asides to graffiti and Abstract Expressionist painting as evidenced by the drips, gestural paint strokes, and sense of action.

If the words are, as the title describes, “hiding in plain sight” then is there another meaning or context concealed beneath the surface of the thin layers of paint? While the statements are straightforward and direct, the paintings offer only further questions.

Nancy Murphy Spicer's "Hiding in Plain Sight" is at Page Bond Gallery through Sept. 30.