Intimacy in Discourse: 
and Unreasonable Sized Paintings


October 18 December 22, 2015

Mana Contemporary presents Part I in this two-part exhibition, co-presented with School of Visual Arts Chelsea Gallery in collaboration with Rail Curatorial Projects, exploring how various painting sizes affect artists and viewers.

Curated by Phong Bui, both shows are proposed experiments to explore the various conditions that lead to the production of small paintings: how paintings’ sizes are determined by artists’ conscious and unconscious intentions, and how those sizes, in turn, affect their relation to viewers in the various spaces the artworks quietly occupy in contemporary visual culture.

The exhibition opens at Mana Contemporary on Sunday, October 18, 2015, with a reception from 1 to 6 p.m. A concurrent exhibition will be on view at School of Visual Arts Chelsea Gallery from November 21 – December 22, 2015, with a reception on Saturday, November 21, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Bui commented that both curatorial ideas were inspired by Jackson Pollock’s admiration for Albert Pinkham Ryder, whose modest-sized paintings, such as “Moonlight Marine” (1870 - 90) which measured 11 ½  x 12 inches, evoke monumental scale and immensity of space, while Pollock’s large-sized canvases attain a sense of intimacy. The show also references Thomas Nozkowski’s term, “reasonable size paintings,” that describes his two standard sizes, 16 x 20 inches and 22 x 28 inches, within which he has consistently worked since the early 1970s. 

Part I: Reasonable Sized Paintings at Mana Contemporary will focus solely on works by artists who have consistently made paintings approximately within this modest scale. Artists include: Joshua Abelow, Peter Acheson, Etel Adnan, Ellen Altfest, Tom Burckhardt, Rackstraw Downes, Helmut Federle, Robert Feintuch, Mark Greenwold, Josephine Halvorson, Merlin James, Bill Jensen, Katy Moran, Thomas Nozkowski, Ann Pibal, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, James Siena, and Robert Storr.

Part II: Unreasonable Sized Paintings at SVA Chelsea Gallery does not, in this instance, refer to unorthodox variations in canvas shape or size, but rather to particular occasions where painters, who otherwise produce larger works, feel compelled to make paintings approximately within this modest scale—occasions that are often less influenced by reason than by the need to concretize, without limitation, pure emotion or spontaneous thoughts. This category is the most commonly practiced among painters including Michael Berryhill, Sebastian Black, Katherine Bradford, Lois Dodd, Louise Fishman, Ron Gorchov, Joanne Greenbaum, Nora Griffin, EJ Hauser, Sanya Kantarovsky, Alex Katz, James English Leary, Matvey Levenstein, Dean Levin, Margrit Lewczuk, Chris Martin, Loren Munk, Catherine Murphy, Aliza Nisenbaum, Joanna Pousette-Dart, Ellen Phelan, Tal R, Neo Rauch, Julia Rommel, Cordy Ryman, Julia Schmidt, Juan Ulsé, Don Voisine, Merrill Wagner, Roger White, Terry Winters and Lisa Yuskavage.

In conjunction with the exhibition, poetry reading, dance performance, and panel discussions will be organized at both venues. Admission to all events is free to the public. A free color catalogue of the exhibition will also be available. 

About Phong Bui
Phong Bui is an artist and the co-founder, editor-in-chief, and publisher of The Brooklyn Rail and Rail Editions, and the host/producer of Off the Rail on Art International Radio. From 2007 to 2009 he was a curatorial advisor at MoMA PS1, and is currently a board member of the Artists Advisory Committee of the Sharpe–Walentas Studio Program, AICA (the International Association of Art Critics, United States Section), the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, The Miami Rail, and The Third Rail. As a visual artist, his numerous installations have won the Award in Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Eric Isenburger Annual Prize for Installation from the National Academy Museum (2003).

About School of Visual Arts
School of Visual Arts has been a leader in the education of artists, designers and creative professionals for more than six decades. With a faculty of distinguished working professionals, a dynamic curriculum and an emphasis on critical thinking, SVA is a catalyst for innovation and social responsibility. Comprised of more than 6,000 students at its Manhattan campus and 35,000 alumni in 100 countries, SVA also represents one of the most influential artistic communities in the world. For information about the College’s 32 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, visit

The SVA Chelsea Gallery is located at 601 West 26 Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10001. It is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free. The gallery is accessible by wheelchair. For further information, call (212) 592-2145.

Press Release

Robert Feintuch, Feet Up, 2013
Thomas Nozkowski, Untitled (9-7), 2011
Etel Adnan, Untitled, 2014
Chris Martin, Untitled, 2006-2009
Juan Ulsé, In Kayak (Abierto), 2013
Lisa Yuskavage, Cherry KK, 1998