A familiar face on the art circuit, Shey (rhymes with day, she is best known by only one name,) has maintained a studio in Southampton the last several years. Past exhibits at the Kramoris Gallery have been popularly greeted by the art crowd regulars, and found many new collectors as well. An artist since her twenties, painting and making collages, and achieving a very individual “look”, only recently has she melded a hybrid of both mediums in the same piece, refining that quite personal charming look. This look includes both child-like and voluptuous visions set in fantastic scenery, perhaps from a by-gone age.
Part of that look is due to Shey having lived some years in Spain. All of the elements of that richly fabled nation and people took deep roots in her. She was taken, she said, mesmerized, by the genius of the Spanish painting tradition, of course. Especially evocative to her were Velazquez and Goya, not only their paintings but their lives as well; particularly their paintings of the young princesses, las infantas. These same paintings that cast a spell across the centuries on another Spaniard, Picasso. In her interpretations Shey has adopted the palette of Picasso– and some of the moods and drafting techniques of Matisse.
These four masters, Velazquez, Goya, Matisse and Picasso are obvious and strong influences on her work, but Shey casts them into a fairy tale of her particular style: enchanting, charming, both nostalgic and very contemporary. If you didn’t know better, Shey might have sketched these princesses of Madrid shopping on Madison Avenue. It is a surrealistic twist of Shey’s that puts her also in the tradition of Romantic and history painters, if only with one foot. However, these are only spices to her paintings, beautifully executed with virtuoso bravura passages, Shey’s paintings are a lot more fun–less serious than Velazquez or Goya in the distance. In this she more resembles Matisse, with his famous remark that he tried to make a painting like a comfortable easy chair. Shey’s paintings are more like a chaise lounge!
“Paintings are shapes,” says Shey. “I found their shapes so fascinating, the princesses’ dresses and hair-dos and their faces. I try to make interesting shapes.” Along with that is the gift of the colorist– an instinct especially strong in her. And she seems to take for granted a conjurer’s skill with the many textures and materials of her collage elements–literally from rags to riches, including a fondness for gold leaf, extensively used in these new works.