Oil on canvas
70 x 70 in. (177.8 x 177.8 cm)
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation
Employing her incisive sense of humor, Joyce Treiman constructed the masterful Uphill incorporating the signature elements that have made her work provocative, lushly exciting to the eye, and enduring. These elements include reverence for the figurative masters, identification with her subject by incorporating a self-portrait, and sardonic social/political commentary. With a color palette and a heroic composition reminiscent of Frederic Remington, Uphill borrows from the past while making fun of mainstream art and playfully accomplishes this with sensuous impressionistic brushwork.
It is no accident that Uphill engages the glorified western heritage immortalized by Charles Russell and Frederic Remington. Treiman was originally from the Midwest, but ended up on the West Coast at a time when the art of that region was considered provincial by the New York establishment. The chap-clad Treiman, galloping full speed up a steep hill, mirrors Remington’s Self Portrait on a Horse. As well as echoing Remington’s subject matter, the painting emanates a Californian sense of light and space, with its rich combination of cobalt blues and cadmium yellows.
The title Uphill alludes to Treiman’s personal challenges, which were many: being a figurative painter in the heyday of abstract expressionism, enduring second-class status as a West Coast artist in an era driven by East Coast dogma, succeeding as a female in a male-dominated arena, and surviving lung cancer. The sign reading “Uphill” is a tongue-in- cheek nod to the famous Hollywood sign and its pop depiction by Edward Ruscha. Perhaps the most intriguing detail is the disembodied head left behind the rider and steed, like a period in the dust.
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