New takes on the classics

New takes on the classics
Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum is kicking off the new year by opening its doors — and handing over its showrooms — to two promising young artists inspired by the museum’s venerable permanent collection.

Red Hook artist Shura Chernozatonskaya’s playful vertical paintings grace the third floor of the museum as a part of a continual and rotating exhibition of works by up-and-coming Brooklyn artists called Raw/Cooked, while Rachel Kneebone’s delicate porcelain sculptures cascade across the institution’s fourth floor in the eponymous exhibit Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin.

Chernozatonskaya isn’t nervous about showing her creations alongside the museum’s iconic impressionistic and religious paintings in the grand third floor hall. In fact, those works inspired her to create the site-specific pieces.

“It’s been a wonderful experience,” said Chernozatonskaya. “I’ve had a wonderful time working with the museum’s collection.”

Her paintings contain broad, colorful strokes and circles, which echo the street signs and traffic lights of her neighborhood.

“The circle that appears in all of my paintings connects to the different genres in the museum,” said Chernozatonskaya. “I find the circle to be a perfect form that is unattainable and the imperfection reflects our practice in general and makes the art move.”

Upstairs, in the museum’s esteemed Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Kneebone is showing nearly a dozen hand-molded porcelain figures with miniature human forms that merge and mutate in odd combinations.

Kneebone cites master humanist Auguste Rodin’s “Gates of Hell” and Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy” as the source of her inspiration. Several of the museum’s Rodin bronze sculptures sit in the exhibit next to her original works in vivid contrast.

Her curator, Catherine Morris says the exhibit helps its audience examine Rodin and modern art history from a different perspective.

“Rachel’s figures are displaying their fragility and humanity in a vulnerable but also universal way,” said Morris.

“There’s strength in vulnerability.”

Raw/ Cooked: Shura Chernozatonskaya; Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin at The Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. at Washington Avenue in Prospect Heights, (718) 638-5000]. Museum is closed Monday and Tuesday. For info, visit www.brooklymuseum.org.

Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.