Mimi Lauter’s gigantic pastel drawings at Marc Selwyn Fine Art are the visual equivalent of having a word on the tip of your tongue and not being able to say it: frustrating experiences that highlight some of the differences between minds and bodies.
But the young artist’s richly textured fields of brooding, autumnal colors, with fine patterns carved into their fleshy surfaces, are more complicated — and resplendent — than that. More than just about any other artist of her generation, Lauter excites our desire to know what we are looking at only to short-circuit such unimaginative, even mechanical activities.
What results is an extraordinary dance between our capacity to think clearly and our knowledge that that’s not enough. Never explicit, Lauter’s works are drop-dead sexy.
They’re also old-fashioned. Refusing to play into our culture’s current obsession with instantaneous gratification, Lauter’s slow, sensuous pictures of organic forms are Old World in their appreciation of subtlety and love of sophistication. As if made by an old soul, they are primitive in their insistence that physicality matters and that intuition is at least as valuable as rationality.