This is the Future of Non-Objective Art at Atlantic Gallery

Featured Exhibition
A room with art on the wall

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Gallery View: Photo Courtesy of Atlantic Gallery Felix Quinonez

Atlantic Gallery, located a short walk from the High Line in Manhattan’s Chelsea, is currently home to This is the Future of Non-Objective Art, curated by Suzan Shutan. This exhibition gathers over a hundred artists from around the globe, each exploring the boundaries of Non-Objective art through unique sensory experiences, experimental processes, and new techniques. Alongside the show, a detailed 110-page catalog is available, offering further insight into the works and artists involved. This large-scale exhibition runs from February 13 to March 2, 2024.

Founded in 1974, Atlantic Gallery moved from Brooklyn to SoHo before settling in Chelsea’s Landmark Arts Building in 2007. It is an artist-run cooperative supporting a variety of media, including painting, printmaking, photography, and sculpture. The gallery organizes solo, group, and invitational exhibitions, focusing on creating a dialogue between artists and the public. In our interview, we’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of curating such a diverse and expansive exhibition with Suzan Shutan, exploring the motivations, discoveries, and anticipated impact of showcasing Non-Objective art’s evolving dialogue.

A white box with a piece of art on it

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Installation view, photo courtesy of Suzan Shutan

Tell us about the curatorial process of this large-scale group show.

For the past seven years, I have been exhibiting and working alongside a national and international group of prolific artists whose work has been rooted in Non-Objective art but have taken it forward in the most exciting ways. When Atlantic Gallery reached out to me to curate their annual exhibit open to public artists, there was no doubt that I wanted the exhibition to focus on Non-Objective art, which has been embraced and highly supported abroad but much less so here in the USA. This is a growing movement of artists whose concerns are moving past the classical definition of Non-Objective (producing visuals that are devoid of obvious meaning). Art world institutions do not often embrace Abstraction, let alone Non-Objective art, as they need to continue to educate their public.

The title, This is the Future of Non-Objective Art, is an intentionally bold statement meant to reflect the progressive work in this field. The 107 artists exhibited, of which 70 works are presented in the gallery and 37 works exhibited both online and virtually in the gallery, are all deserving. The great equalizer is the catalogue.

A black and white art on a white wall

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Installation view, photo courtesy of Suzan Shutan

Initially, there were over 900 images of work submitted. I took each work seriously pouring over submissions. I read every statement and viewed all websites to make sure each submission had its own history. It was daunting, and one of the hardest tasks I had to undertake was the decision-making process. I loved so many of the submissions individually, but I had to think of how the whole would support my premise of where Non-Objective art is going.

Installing an exhibit is always a challenge and calls for a plan. I started by printing out every image of work to go in the gallery, then taped each image onto the wall where I thought it might work. However, once the artwork was unwrapped, I realized it began to tell a different story. Rethinking with little time to spare, I decided to start with installing one large work on every wall, then added smaller and medium-sized pieces. It was crucial that each work had space and would stand on its own without conflict. I wanted every work to be honored. This meant hanging unconventionally, not in a linear fashion, but placing work higher and lower and in small groupings that resonated and dialogued with each other while still making their own statement. This followed suit with the entire exhibition concept.

A wall with art on it

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Installation view, photo courtesy of Suzan Shutan

Do you think the show will give a sense of current forms of abstraction today, and if so, can you give us an idea based on the artwork in the show?

Absolutely. The work in this exhibition addresses new modes of abstraction and communication, rising above purely aesthetic reasons and transforming us. Much of the work departs from its 20th-century references and minimalist aesthetic that created a rumination on emptiness. The show is a contemporary mashup of materials, techniques, and influences. Work is no longer bound to a rigid idea of what art is. It’s about fullness and connection and what happens when subject matter departs from the confines of formalist terms and evolves into narratives that provoke the expectation of new possibilities and responsiveness to new conditions.

A rectangular box with a window

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Photo Courtesy of Susan Still Scott, Modern Box, 2023, Acrylic, flashe, canvas, wood, tape, felt, plastic, 18 x 24 x 11”

Many works in this exhibit are rejecting the canvas and branching out from the medium of paint into a broad spectrum of materials that, while driven by their textures, colors, and uses, apply personal content. Ordinary strapping and fiberglass cloth tape take the place of paint, honoring the trades of building and construction. Scrubbed Brillo pads become the colored material indicative of manual labor. Form is created out of electric typewriter print. Shaving razors structurally reference the inequity of gender profiteering. Knitting with yarn or knitting with wood become feminist acts of self-determination. The organic has become multi-textural with the use of food additives reminiscent of the artist’s life running a restaurant. Colored sand becomes the living remnants of geological formations, and buttercup flowers are nature’s stand for color. Boundaries of material and meaning are blurring.

A close up of a grey square

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Photo Courtesy of Howard el Yasin, Overworked Brillo Grid, 2024, Brillo, wood 18”x 10” x 2”
A white square with many squares

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Photo Courtesy of Marietta Hoferer, B_L_6_2021, Strapping tape on paper, Graphite, 20 “x 20”
A black and white image of a rectangular object

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Typeblock, 2023, Typewriter on masa paper, 15” x 11”. Photo courtesy of Philip Denker,

Almost every work in this exhibit has an element of the sublime and an abounding desire for the work to be felt. Rudolph Steiner says—The basis of artistic creation is not what is, but what might be, not the real but the possible. What is beyond nonobjective other than looking at something that inspires us to think and feel- this is its future. It is always a conversation for artists in any century. Artists harness the vibrations and energy of their eras. We are not immune to being touched by our times. We are living in a multi-verse of independent parallel universes that require new relationships, new perspectives, and new thoughts. As artists, we are the energy, and our narratives have intent, which will keep changing. One thing remains: as artists, we are perpetually creating the future. Non-objective art continues to establish new dimensions.

A piece of yellow and green paint

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Photo Courtesy of Mark Van Wagner, Nugget, 2022, natural and pigmented sand on recycled cardboard boxes, 10” x 7”x 4”

This is the Future of Non-Objective Art at Atlantic Gallery: 548 W.28th St. #540, NY, NY Curated by Suzan Shutan. All artists listed here.

About the curator: Suzan Shutan is an artist, curator, educator, and Co-founder of the artist-run organization SomethingProjects. She has been awarded artist residencies at Bemis Foundation, Yaddo, and Proyecto Ace- Argentina and grants from Artslink, Art Matter, Berkshire Taconic Foundation, Foundation for Contemporary Art, and four CT Commission on the Arts Individual Artist Fellowships. Her work has been featured in 27 solo exhibitions, including The Aldrich Museum, Housatonic Museum, The Islip Museum, The Arts & Cultural Center of Florida, Kenise Barnes Gallery, Zacheta National Gallery, Poland, and has been included in 198 group exhibitions throughout Eastern & Central Europe, Australia, Canada, Argentina, South America and USA. She has upcoming group exhibitions at Concord Art, MA, Jamestown Art Center, RI., and Metaphor Projects, NY, and a solo installation at Drawing Rooms, NJ.