Echo Eggebrecht

New York

at Horton


Throughout the seven oil paintings in her recent show, “Spells, Spoils & Lucky Charms,” the young New York painter Echo Eggebrecht (b. 1977) sustained an alluring sense of mystery along with mesmerizingly varied paint applications. In these small canvases (mostly 22 to 32 inches on a side), fine detail and exaggerated perspective bump up against areas of flat color with faux-naive incongruity. New for this artist are thoroughly worked surfaces—there has been much scraping, overpainting and taping. In some places, drawing is visible; in others, neighboring paint has peeled off with the removal of tape, lending a provisional quality.

Several paintings are marked by surreal scenarios reminiscent of the New Leipzig School. For example, in 11 p.m. (all works 2010), three women kneel, as if in prayer, next to a hospital bed in a corner of a room set off by curtains. Strangely, they all wear black lingerie and pay no mind to numerous rats roaming about. As if in a dream, the walls are supplanted by views of outer space, with floating purple and blue nebulae, but an institutional dropped ceiling presides impassively over the scene.

Sugar in My Bowl is set in a well-appointed but partly trashed home where pairs of animals, from golden retrievers to cobras to kangaroos, huddle on the floor. One of a pair of chickens in the foreground has been dispatched, and its bloody head rests by a bowl on a table in the middle ground. Meanwhile, the shadow of an unseen human figure looms ominously at left, like some sinister Noah who has assembled all the world’s fauna in pairs, only to sup on them one by one. The work could serve as a mordant emblem of human-driven species decline.

Across the center of Camelot, meanwhile, two groups of fully armored soldiers face each other before a vigorously brushed, semiabstract, mud-colored landscape. They recall the opposing armies in Velázquez’s The Surrender of Breda, complete with crisscrossing lances that pierce the sky like searchlights. Three foxes roam, strangely comfortably for wild animals, among the armored legs; the viewer gradually notices that several suits of armor are missing their gauntlets, or whole lower halves, and are propped up on lances. (Analogously, the artist has not finished painting the knights, leaving areas of drawing exposed.) Perhaps they are all empty shells, facing off in a vacant world.

Year One’s title suggests a new, perhaps postapocalytic, beginning. In a handsome but disheveled interior that is marred by graffiti, suggesting lengthy vacancy, shelves along the far wall support dozens of variously colored elephant statuettes. They stand in neat rows, trunks raised, as if boldly striding into a post-human future.

Photo: Echo Eggebrecht: Year One, 2010, oil on panel, 30 by 24 inches; at Horton.