Cindy Phenix | Who Countest the Steps of the Sun

On View Now at Nino Mier Gallery in New York

Written by

Chloe Brown

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Cindy Phenix Lapse Into Attuned Partial Translation, 2024 Oil and pastel on linen 96 x 72 in.

Cindy Phenix’s current exhibition at Nino Mier Gallery in New York presents a world in trouble. With implosions of color against an otherwise blank canvas, Phenix articulates our demise—in the midst of climate change and ongoing global crises—with a certain strangeness and nearly good humor. The Montréal-born, Los Angeles-based painter retreats to biblical depictions of a world we have made or what lies ahead of us, leaving the audience to decide which is which.

Growing up, I had an affinity for those I Spy books. Scenes of a wooden desk overlaid with thousands of objects, large noble keys and strewn dice and lost puzzle pieces. We, the audience (of mostly children) were tasked with creating some sort of logic out of an otherwise messy room. This is where Phenix’s latest work in Who Countest the Steps of the Sun takes the viewer.

Cindy Phenix. Who Countest the Steps of the Sun NEW YORK | SOHO April 30 - June 8, 2024

The show's title is taken from a poem by William Blake, not quite a children’s book game but similar in whimsy. Staged in the Nino Mier gallery until June 8th, the first wall of paintings depicts a world on fire. In one work titled, “Remains Precious to Embrace Breathing the Wind” (2024), spiders sprawl across a canvas littered in disfigured faces in a hyper realistic rainbow of colors. At first glance, the paintings seem celebratory, until you lock eyes with one of Phenix’s anthropogenic figures in agony, and you realize: not everything may be coming up like Blake's sunflower.

Phenix’s past shows explore the absurdity of the everyday, the “Theatrum Mundi.” In “But in the Distance of Space a Display of Equitable Serenity” the work channels this frivolous fancy with cohesive scene. Ripe with symbolism, the only “complete” woman of the piece (and potentially, looking around the room, the whole body of work) stands by a piano with a globe. A broadened perspective is signaled here, and we are told to view her as her audience is to her right. However, a telescope aims directly at her on stage. How do we hone in on the individual levels with a critical eye—celebrity or political figure—and fail to see the bigger picture before us?

Cindy Phenix Inhabit the Stillness of a Pure Present, 2024 Oil and pastel on linen 36 x 48 in.

Taking a step back, each work is adorned with a nights moon or a setting sun, grounding us in the physical like the directionals of my “I Spy” books. Phénix tells us where to look, but gives us the option of the colorful whimsy. The white wall anchors us to a world we exist in, a soho we traverse, while Phenix beckons us into a like microcosm of Chaos she—and we all—created.

Who Countest the Steps of the Sun is on view now at Nino Mier Gallery in New York through June 8.

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Cindy Phenix, Nino Mier, Flaunt Magazine