Danielle Roberts, Pub Three Forty, 2020

A new art show explores the feeling of being together

In 'The Privilege of Getting Together', a handful of rising artists respond to themes prescient to the pandemic.

by Ryan White
14 April 2021, 7:00am

Danielle Roberts, Pub Three Forty, 2020

Shakespeare wrote Macbeth during an outbreak of bubonic plague. Grant Wood painted “American Gothic” during the Great Depression. Keith Haring designed his murals at the peak of the AIDS crisis. Even Kanye West produced his most critically-acclaimed album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, in exile, following the infamous VMA incident. As put by Danny Báez, the curator behind a new show of art created during the pandemic: “Great things and ideas flourish in the midst of a crisis.”

It’s what gave birth to REGULARNORMAL, Danny’s new art space in New York, which launched in 2020 with the aim of going beyond what a gallery typically offers and fostering a sense of community and mentorship between emerging artists in the city. “A place where integrity, mutual support and respect are the pillars that keep pushing our human connections and artistry forward,” Danny says. Their new show — The Privilege of Getting Together — takes this idea to heart and brings together fifteen artists, each working in different media and formats, to meditate on themes of community, gatherings, family, lineage, home, and relationships — “themes many are thinking about within their own domestic spaces during the time of [coronavirus].” 

an elaborate painting that includes figures walking away and towards the viewer down a long highway surrounded by plants
Renée Estée, The Highway, 2020

From Renée Estée’s viscous oil paint strokes of homogeneous bodies ambling leisurely towards, and away from, huddled groups of people, to Danielle Roberts’ lurid neon rendering of a sombre bar filled with burnt-out drinkers, the paintings feel like perfect distillations of a very particular moment in history; one that will likely be remembered for its cultural impact as much as anything else. Estelle Maisonett’s artwork may predate the pandemic by a few months, but its central figure — a bodiless outfit of a windbreaker, trousers and trainers, clutching empty shopping bags as it runs through the street like a ghost on autopilot — feels no less of the moment than the artworks created a few months later.

Domesticity -- food shopping, interior lives, sleep -- feel like a main characters in the artwork, but so does madness. Particularly in Daniel Morowitz’s acrylic painting of a man in his home, the moon and stars glowing through the window as he contemplates what to do with the kitchen knife in his grasp. Above all, each painting feels like a moment we’ve all endured and one that speaks to a shared experienced. “I connected with these artists regarding their sense of community and how well they balanced each other, directly or indirectly,” Danny says. “They are bonded by their affinity to adapt and continue working despite the disparities and calamities they encountered last year.”

an artwork of a pair of trousers, a jacket and trainers assembled to look like a person running holding shopping bags
Estelle Maisonett, Runner (Just Do It), 2019

The show ultimately came together following Danny’s visits with a number of artists between the early stages of the pandemic and now. “The title comes from seeing others in person during these difficult and uncertain times and realising how much I appreciate meeting people face to face,” he says. “Getting to witness what [these artists] were doing or working on in the midst of the pandemic became a sort of privilege to me.” When asked what art has meant to Danny over the past 12 months, he replies, “Almost everything. I could say that the last 12 months have been the most intense, excruciating, joyful, eye-opening, exciting, and all in all amazing. Despite everything else that went down in 2020, I hung on to art to see me through.”

Originally debuting at REGULARNORMAL in late 2020, for the second iteration, the show is on view at Anna Zorina Gallery in Chelsea until the beginning of May.

a painting of a man sat in a chair in a living room holding up a knife, the moon and stars can be seen through the window
Daniel Morowitz, St. George and the Dragon (The Myth), 2020
a painting of a man with his eyes closed in the lefthand bottom corner, someone's hands are rubbing his face
Jotham Malavé Maldonado, Al límite del jardín, 2021
a brightly coloured painting that features different scenes of people boarding and travelling on trains
Bethanya Abebe, Train, 2020


All artworks courtesy of The Privilege of Getting Together curated by Danny Baez at Anna Zorina Gallery, NY

New York