Friday, September 18, 2009

Hollywood Squares

[“Untitled” (2009), Joanne Greenbaum, 80 x 78 inches, oil and acrylic on canvas. “Untitled” (2009), Joanne Greenbaum, 80 x 78 inches, oil and acrylic on canvas. “Untitled” (2009), Joanne Greenbaum, 80 x 78 inches, oil and acrylic on canvas.]

“Hollywood Squares,” the sixth solo exhibition of works by Joanne Greenbaum at D’Amelio Terras wildly demonstrates continued development of her practice of readily identifiable abstract painting. Greenbaum’s approach finds her destructing the constructed. While continuing to push painting’s boundaries, she simultaneously exercises restraint. Thick layers of knifed-on oil contrast with translucent drips bleeding into expanses of white canvas. By quoting sparse elements in her early work, Greenbaum creates intermittent windows through dense layers of form and color. Erasing and gesture become the content of each painting. As she carves graphic contours, a serial segmentation combined with the unfinished alludes to inherent further potential.

Greenbaum liked the idea of making eight paintings that were all the same size: In this show you’ll find that all of her paintings are 80 inches tall by 78 inches wide. Thus, the title “Hollywood Squares.” As with her other recent works, these strong paintings evolve through organic processes of their own integrity and velocity. The artist began doing colored pencil drawings that ultimately became these paintings. The role of drawing greatly contributes to the intricacy of her works. Once Greenbaum started painting them, the work in “Hollywood Squares” was finished in two months—her hand lending itself to a most personal process that careens into bold shapes and colors.

Greenbaum’s abstractions are playful and approach painting in a spirit of liberation. At the same time, she is concerned with a certain formalism in the plastic arts. Refreshingly, she does this by continually pushing the envelope, rather than adherence to narrow prescriptions. While not interested in the vagaries of painting or modernism, Greenbaum obviously moves the canon forward in her own way. It is obvious that she loves the work of Henri Matisse (1869 –1954) and Morris Louis (1912-1962) while not trying to be them. One can see the influence of the former in Greenbaum’s fluidity, draftsmanship, interplay between detail and expression, and use of color. As to the latter, one can feel the very liberation of Color Field painting in the drip, spill, and overlap of Greenbaum’s compelling forms. And wonderfully, one can see Helen Frankenthaler poking her head in as well—her stain paintings unbound by any blueprint.

Louis, Frankenthaler, and Kenneth Noland upped the ante greatly in staining and accepting paint’s transparencies. In Greenbaum’s work, one finds true homage to the role played by the Washington Color School—a debt owed by the entire art world. From modulation of subtle tones to emergence of rich colors through translucent washes, Greenbaum allows her compositions to unfold according to their own rules and resonate through time.

Joanne Greenbaum’s paintings have been featured in a number of venues such as Haus Konstruktiv (Zurich), Museum Abteiberg (Monchengladbach, Germany), Greengrassi Gallery (London), and Nicolas Krupp Gallery (Basel).

Hollywood Squares

by Joanne Greenbaum

through October 31, 2009

@ D’Amelio Terras

525 W 22nd Street, New York City 10011

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