isn't about removing things you love.
It's about removing the things
that distract you from the things you love."
Astonishingly in April -- in high relief from our
pandemic-induced quiescence -- I am in the 4th straight month of exhibiting... LIVE!
A smart and well-arranged group show at Lichtundfire (on New York's Lower East Side), enticingly entitled "Minimal Force", fits together beautifully painting and sculpture (relief and free-standing), encompassing overall what I refer to as post-Minimalism. A faithful reader of Scene4 might be familiar with some of my own work in this mode/genre from earlier postings. A few images to follow endeavor to "part the curtain" on this month's exhibition, while the accompanying discourse is intended to shed the light on the history of these paintings.
"Parting the Curtain (2)", 24 x 36 in. (61 x 91 cm), Acrylic, lacquer & glass beads on
wood panel, 2020
"Parting the Curtain", 18 x 18 in. (46 x 46 cm), Acrylic, lacquer & glass beads on
wood panel, 2020
To my trained artistic ear, the show title ("Minimal Force") posits an emphasis on
"force", and in particular the force that is Color, palpably affecting our subtlest
perceptions and coloring our very view of the world.
"At Dawn We Slept" 30 x 40 in. (76 x 102 cm), oil stick, acrylic, & mixed media on
wood panel, 2017
Granted, I'm a bit of an odd bird in a discussion of Minimalism, utilizing as I do
several distinct modes of abstraction -- all to stay fresh by way of switching between
them. This multi-modal option, I contend, may by itself confer an unprecedented
advantage -- with the entire inexhaustible treasury of 20c. experimentation now so
readily available and so widely disseminated.
In its own turn, this ready abundance does carry a price. I sure understand sensory
overload... the jumble of ideas and insistent piling on of colors and narratives... . In
relief, Minimal art can be a balm, a peace from mondain complications, and a point
of rest from fashion, advertisement, and pretensions in our art world,
in our world... .
My own journey
to understanding and then utilizing Minimalism took a
(deservedly) long time. It started with a certain magic I felt in the presence of Agnes
Martin's paintings, and in her extraordinary concurrent writings on art. I then
traveled in my appreciation from Brice Marden's calligraphic work to his
experiments with pure expanses of color, and thence to greater understanding of
Ellsworth Kelly's contributions to the genre. More recently my interest in Color Field
painters brought me closer to the work of Kenneth Noland and Barnett Newman. To
the extent that most of these artists' experiments came on the shoulders of Joseph
Albers' breakthrough color course, so did my own ever-growing comprehension of
the power of Color alone.
My own key to this kingdom turned out to be a new 21st century artistic material --
glass bead gel, tiny glass beads in the acrylic medium suspension, providing a self
-sufficient surface of enticingly uncertain and shifting depth. To the extent that glass
is made of sand -- I built the edifice of my minimal contributions on shifting sands.
"The Morning Choir", 24 x 36 in. (61 x 91 cm), acrylic, glass beads & textural media on
wood panel, 2019
If I decided, a few years ago, that I had something to add to the minimal discourse, it
was only because I finally found a way not to imitate an Ellsworth Kelly, other
luminaries and favorites... . And the only way forward for me was what I refer to as
The insistent and now unavoidable visual familiarity with the best of past art -- by
grace of the minor gods of World Wide Web -- inevitably adds an acknowledgement,
which can be described as a kind of a loss of innocence, in the 19c sense of the word.
It adds an extra layer. And the art created in consequence will likely come through
as more complex, a knowledge that can't be un-known, perhaps a wisdom that
needn't be unlearnt -- unlike Picasso staking out the position of an artist to be free
like children, to throw off civilization's veneer, to go to the beginning... . Perhaps it
can even be described as Minimalism with complications... . Yes, there simply has to
be yet another "layer" added. It is a response to a now different and, in an optimistic
view, a richer visual world -- an ARTificial world created and constantly added to by
(Installation shot, gallery Lichtundfire.) "In Clarity", 24 x 24 in. (61 x 61 cm),
oil stick, acrylic, lacquer, glass beads, & mixed media on wood panel, 2018-2022