Thursday, May 26, 2011

Seeing Red: New Works by Frank Badur

[“#11-09” (2011), oil & alkyd on canvas. “#D08-23” (2008), pencil & gouache on Chinese paper. “11-10” (2011) oil & alkyd on canvas.]

“Mostly Red + works on paper,” an exhibition of new work by Berlin-based artist Frank Badur—known for his gracefully intuitive and minimalist compositions—will be up at Margaret Thatcher Projects through June 25, 2011. Drawing one into the subtlety of his work with an interplay of surface and color, his viewers experience delicate transition of shade, tone, and texture of each band in a newly heightened way, the veils of reds laying down bands of varying widths and opacity across the canvas. Far from clinical or mechanical in their sensibility, Badur’s paintings create a vibrant and almost tectonic sensation on their surfaces. Carrying this deep emotional weight, each level of surface reveals Badur’s hand.

Badur’s aesthetic language is clear: While tracing from Fauvism and Constructivism through the Color Field paintings of the Abstract Expressionist movement, his work relies on formal restraints combined with control of materials and intuition. Though aware of this evolution, it is also distinct—if not independent. While self-aware, his work—at the same time—seeks a pure and primeval meaning.

A selection of works on paper is also featured in this exhibition. Referred to by Badur as “scrolls,” these long vertical sheets—divided by subdued and delicate graphite and gouache lines, bands and grids—build a visual harmony achieved in his paintings. While of impact, these quieter works carry a gentle stillness. A minimalist who works through series of abstractions, Badur’s meditative paintings, drawings, and prints convey a uniqueness that subsumes any generic outcome. Lines in his drawings and prints are often lyrical and austere, while his paintings show a deployment of color both intense and unexpected. The latter sometimes suggests partial views of unspecific objects. This meditative minimalism—usually found installed in architectural settings—emphasizes an awareness of physical being and spatial experience.

Badur is acclaimed for a cycle of drawings called “Reflections on the Eisenman Grid.” Consisting of 24 small-scale drawings—presented in close proximity to each other on one wall, in four rows of six—they reference Peter Eisenman’s “Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe” (located close to Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate). Badur’s reaction to this emotionally fraught site is modest and personal—exhibiting no desire to exploit this charged subject. Injecting meaning into a work otherwise potentially neutral, Badur’s drawing in this instance serves as a mental note, topographic memory, and reflection. Over the years, Badur has influenced a number of younger artists including Tim Stapel, Rebecca Michaelis, and Katinka Pilscheur who have sustained an interest in abstraction.

Working in Finland and Berlin, Frank Badur is a professor for painting at the Universität der Künste (Berlin). His work has appeared in such venues as: Malmö Kunstmuseum (Sweden), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Mondriaanhuis (The Netherlands), Neue Nationalgalerie (Berlin), the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Museé de Cambrai (France), MoMA, the Neuberger Museum (Purchase), and the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston).

Mostly Red + Works on Paper
Frank Badur
Through June 25, 2011
539 West 23rd Street, NYC 10011

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