January 2023

Abstraction, Reloaded

Philip Gerstein




"The expression 'Abstract Art' is not popular. And rightly so,

since it says little, or a least has a confusing effect.

... In my view, the best name would be 'real art',

because this kind of art puts a new artistic world,

spiritual in nature, alongside the external world.

A world that can be brought about only through art.

A real world."

~ Vasily Kandinsky, "Abstrakte Malerei" (Paris 1935)


This December into January, the Boston (USA) area cognoscenti of good painting are being treated to a well-juried show, on the subject of Abstraction ("Abstract Art: Contemporary Approaches",  Mosesian Center for the Arts, Watertown MA,  until Jan.13). The need for such a show has been obvious, considering the number of first-rate local artists that work in this mode of painting, while being relatively ignored these days by the larger area institutions, most notably the ICA (The Boston Institute of Contemporary Art) with its shameful record of neglect of local artists.


Be that as it may, the area artists were doubly eager to submit their work to a now comparatively rare pure abstraction exhibition on this scale. I am thus delighted to see my larger post-minimal painting, "The Day of Singing", exhibited for the first time. It is all color... the matte and the iridescent subtly textured surfaces... the sacred geometry of the intervals organically spaced -- the singing of the intervals through the veil of color and emotion.


Gerstein_The Day of Singing-2

"The Day of Singing", 40 x 30 in. (102 x 76 cm),
Oil stick, acrylic, & mixed media on wood panel, 2020


A few years ago, some of the big players in the New York Art World confidently predicted that the latest new wave in Art shall be figurative -- bring back the figure and narrative content. Like changes of seasonal fashion, Art could be all but decreed and steered by large international galleries and major thematic art fairs.

Fortunately and unexpectedly, they encountered what amounts to a determined resistance on the part of the artists themselves -- buoyed this time by the universal access to the Web and artists' ability to create their own websites, and therefore online connections to the market of ideas and images.


So many artists do not want to let go of this vital century-old understanding: that Abstraction in Art constitutes another universal language, flexible enough to encompass emotions and geometry, universal aspirations and the lyrical poetry of the everyday -- that and everything in between. I, for one, am concentrating on the corner of this universe that is expressed through color and the impression of touchable texture, mixed with the kinetic vocabulary of intervals. I speak several entwined abstract languages -- and my range of expression is an evolving and enchanted encounter with this ever expanding ecosystem of embraced echolocations...



Installation shot: at the Vernissage.  


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Born and raised in Moscow, Russia, Philip Gerstein began exhibiting his work in the 1980's, while pursuing a PhD in Art History at Harvard University. He studied painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Japanese calligraphy with Toshu Ogawa. Gerstein exhibits in NYC, Provincetown MA, and extensively in the Boston area, as well as organizing and curating painting and photography shows. His work has been reviewed, reproduced and praised in many publications, including The Boston Globe, ArtScope Magazine, and Art New England. For his other work in Scene4, check the Archives

©2023 Philip Gerstein
©2023 Publication Scene4 Magazine





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