Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Needing Some Color-Time-Space

[“Flowering Tree,” Kevin Wixted (2009), oil on linen. “Trema Disc,” Julie Gross (2005), oil on linen. “Blue Sky With Lattice,” Thornton Willis (2008), oil on canvas. “Bent,” Joanne Freeman (2009), oil & wax on canvas. “Wish You Well,” Gary Petersen, acrylic & oil on panel. “Flowering Tree” …]

“Music is an art of sound interval, time interval, and painting – my painting – is an art of space intervals,” declared Gene Davis (1920-1985) in a 1981 interview. “One is time, one is space.” A member of the Washington Color School, Davis was known for his paintings of vertical color stripes. While he worked in a variety of media such as ink, oil, acrylic, video, and collage, Davis predominantly used acrylic paint on canvas from 1958. Repeating particular colors in a “composition” of rhythm, breaks, contrast, and repetition with variations in his work, Davis’ well known “Black Gray Beat” (1964) reinforced his weltanschauung of comparison of music with the visual arts. In that painting, pairs of alternating black and gray stripes repeat across the canvas and break forth in repetition of dark and light pairs and colors of sharp contrast.

When interpreted in music and visual art, sound and sight share experiential qualities. Indeed, music’s rhythm and tones compare to intervals of sight and space in painting. Underlying systems in musical scores and painting grids are comparable structures in the art of composition. Curated by Joanne Freeman and Kim Uchiyama, artists participating in the group show “Color-Time-Space” at Lohin Geduld Gallery selectively use color selectively to build intuitive rhythm—calling forth distinct color relationships in painting space creation. Those created spaces are defined by grid (both actual and implied) and repetition of specific color elements. Running through October 10, paradoxical relationships—intuitive and measured—give the work of these 13 painters a variety of contradictory attributes.

Painting allows James Biederman to see what is invisible. Wet paint falls in relationship to the gravity and surface of the canvas. Once “barren,” in Biederman’s view, the canvas becomes “inhabited” by expressive colors and interacting forms. Structure—in many cases geometric—maintains stability in his painting (as it would in music). Paintings have became a way for him to reveal his subliminal memory: In his current works you find fluid structures within pictorial space. As befits the supposition of “Color-Time-Space” in the connective music-painting paradigm, Biederman brings to his painting the timbres picked up years at music study and playing tenor saxophone. He also brings to the canvas his experience learning dance and movement at the Martha Graham School. Points of reference for Biederman have also included the Renaissance artists Giotto (1267-1337) and Masaccio (1401-1428), the writings of Marcel Proust (1871-1922), and the highly lyrical verse of Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). The viewer finds in his work a tugging between the non-narrative and narrative. Despite interaction between abstraction and a suggestive place or state of being, the painting becomes an entity only when details of emotion and place are revealed.

One finds dynamic and indefatigable deliberations between abstract language of form and color in Joanne Freeman’s work. By using oil paint and beeswax paste on panel, she builds hard-edged patterns of dynamic geometry in adaptation to her medium. Freeman’s paintings—in texture and movement of beeswax-laden paint upon the canvas—engage both intellect and senses. Movement inherent of her painted world suggests the freneticism of modern choreography. Pop culture, spiritual pursuit, and organic forces interplay wildly in the work of Gary Petersen—bound by the mortar of humor and his cosmic interests. Petersen’s abstract works host veils, portals, or openings into other words—“flirting” with representation and serving as a bridge between what is real and imagined.

Drawing precedes painting in the work of Julie Gross who has—in her recent works—used compasses to choreograph structures of circular forms. In her exciting works, these forms morph into more considerable forms—playing upon her interest in the interaction tension and flow in centrifugal and centripetal forces. In Gross’ work, the painted surface is precise and uninflected—allowing spatial interaction to reveal itself distinctly in an equation of surface and tension. In “Trema Disc” (2005), her entry in “Color-Time-Space,” circles cascade into a web of bubbles upon the linen, those circles serving as vessels of color. Gross seeks to create breathing, tense, and emergent images that—while suspended on one level—connect slices of light. Furthermore, she is compelled by discrete relationships emerging from color and form in this strained field where subject and ground revel in movement.

In Thornton Willis’ words, “To describe 21st Century spatial concepts in painting is to try and depict the basic interconnectedness of matter in which form only appears separate.” On his canvasses, form struggles to maintain itself in dynamic flows of space and time within existential dynamics within nature. This resultant flux suggests volume in the form as Willis works toward a kind of biomorphic Cubism. While drawing from myriad references, modernist writings of Nobel Prize contender Italo Calvino (1923-1985), the frescos of early Renaissance artist and mathematician Piero Della Francesca (1415-1492), and the Gothic and polychrome Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral (Duomo) of Florence are among Kevin Wixted’s inspirations. Recent and dynamic (if not radical) changes to the topography of the New York City are also finding their place in Wixsted’s intuitive paintings. “Flowering Tree” (2009), Wixted’s offering in this show, exudes the confluence of space, color, and geometric patterning he so absorbingly accomplishes.

Contributing writer and managing arts editor at the indispensible Brooklyn Rail, Ben La Rocco gives us “Mississippi” in this show. A lecturer and visiting critic at Rutgers, Montclair, Hunter, and PS1, La Rocco is a recipient of the S.J. Wallace Truman Fund Award for Painting. The internal geometrics of Jennifer Riley’s highly lyrical paintings explore the material and immaterial through flat and illusionist space. Modernist and Minimalist strategies coalesce in the structures of her work. Laurie Fendrich sees two-dimensional, handmade art as a bulwark against encroachment by mass consumer culture. Balking at the idea of art as simply “self-expression,” Fendrich sees its role in larger cultural impact. Furthermore, Fendrich poses the necessity of embracing art’s traditions, canons, and evolutions while—at the same time—modifying them or even rebelling against them. Kim Uchiyama’s paintings, in their stacked horizontal bands of color, reference landscapes and civilization with metaphorical compression, interruption, and segmentation. Stephen Westfall is best known for his energetic and colorful abstract works, such as “My Beautiful Laundrette” (2008), his offering for this show. Adding a new twist to the classic grid format, Westfall allows asymmetry into these oil paintings that jerk and dance upon the canvas.

Wide brush strokes capture color’s potential in Yvonne Thomas’ captivating and poetic works. Thomas was one of five fortunate artists able to study with Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), Mark Rothko (1903-1970), Barnett Newman (1905-1970), William Baziotes (1912-1963) and David Hare (1917-1992) at the Subject of the Artists School on West Eighth Street in the Village (1948) in a spectacular convergence of Surrealism and nascent Abstract Expressionism. Working with exalted Abstract Expressionist Robert Motherwell afterwards, Thomas absorbed such Surrealist improvisational principles as psychic automatism—feeding her paintings a seamless and Jazz-like perspective.

Gene Davis told Barbara Rose in a 1971 interview for Art Forum: “One must enter the painting through the door of a single color... If the viewer selects individual colors and looks at them across the surface of the work, he’s almost reliving the painting process... The spectator is in a sense, entering into kind of a time experience in the same way that I did when I painted it.” The “time experience” described by Davis, links the viewer’s experience of contemplation with the artist’s creative process. The community of artists participating in “Color-Time-Space” address this link and demonstrate the emotive and visceral space created in painting when color is used with psychology and intention.

Color-Time-Space: A Group Show

Through October 10, 2009

@ Lohin Geduld Gallery

531 West 25th Street, New York City 10001



Through October 11, 2009
@ Janet Kurnatowski Gallery
205 Norman Avenue, Brooklyn 11222

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