Clintel Steed: Allegory of Now

M+is pleased to present Allegory of Now, an exhibition of new paintings by Clintel Steed, the artist’s first solo show with the gallery. The exhibition runs from January 11 through February 7, 2020, with an opening reception on Saturday, January 11 from 6 to 8 pm.

There are certain things you can’t get rid of in life. Like storytelling: we always have had to tell about our experiences – write them down, paint them. We, in our entities, are storytellers. And it goes from a text message, to an email, to the actual moment of being with the person. People say painting is dead, but you can’t get rid of the magic of paint itself, paint on a surface, and how paint translates into some thing. Whatever it becomes, it is something that is sustained, held in time, and held in paint, which makes it magical.

Clintel Steed’s paintings create a visual language that is a way of understanding the world. His work manifests an acute awareness of the history of painting, its potential, and combines it with an unfiltered immediacy. For Allegory of Now, Steed has made a suite of new paintings based on works by canonical painters such as Jacques-Louis David, Peter Paul Rubens, and Giotto. Selected for their subject matter and such universal themes as loyalty, judgment, and punishment, each narrative remains relevant today and is a reflection of how the world feels to the artist now. In The Last Judgment, bodies topple and free-fall towards the abyss — an unpitying metaphor of our mortality and a prescient evocation of our present situation. In Bacchanalia, Steed brings alive the inequity and absurdity in the follies of excess. 

In the process of transcribing the compositions, Steed deciphers the hidden geometries in each work, the shapes, colors and connections that make up the whole. There is an unadulterated devotion to the materiality -- surfaces are fragmented, and paint is often thickly layered. In some works he paints and repaints the canvas, building an accumulation of figures and forms in buttery impasto, while in others he works briskly -– wet-on-wet — and lets the white gessoed underpainting crack throughout the composition. In this reworking and re-presenting of classical themes, Steed aims to give us a greater sense of perspective on our current circumstances.


Clintel Steed (b. 1977, Salt Lake City, UT) received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his MFA from Indiana University, and completed Advanced Studies at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, most recently Clintel Steel: Endymion at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York; Emoji Show at Klaus von Nichtsagend, New York, and So Much, So Little, All At Once at Regina Rex, New York, among others. He is the recipient of the John Koch Award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters, and recent press includes Hyperallergic, Artcritical, and The New York Sun. Clintel Steed lives and works in New York City.