Light and Color
through December 21

by Dominique Nahas

This exhibition is a well organized group show of ten, predominantly abstract painters whose intentions are to impose a heightened sense of color and space in their work. Different strategies prevail to make this exhibition of small works worth seeing.

One of these strategies is to use a sense of semi-transparency to give the optical effect of slowed time and a sense of captured and distilled light. Joie Rosen uses urethane and pigment on silk stretched on wood to form unusual three dimensional see-through geometric works that have perfect visual pitch. Good proportion, good color and thickness of canvas to create a muffled enclosure with implied depth is particularly noticeable in Untitled (Blues with Stripes) , 1996.

Gary Passante's, (who typically creates installation-sized sculptures) two unassuming small works in this show have great presence. His small halo-crown of crushed glass set on a tripod was as mystifying and satisfying as his tiny Untitled, 1995, a painting using oak frameworks suspended in various levels in a boxy wax support. Erin Parish's Untitled, 1996 also plays with dappled light as seen through semi-opaque surfaces in this flat tray-like soft-shouldered sculpture made of resin with its imbedded piece of square resin whose edges seem to be waving in a freeze-dried breeze. Her Tapping for Maple Syrup, 1995 (sounds like an Iris Dement song) also toys with the play of densities, but this time by imbedding umber oil paint brush strokes between layers of amber colored resin. A tremulous feeling of controlled passage of time and light demarcated by long brush strokes that sometimes collide together to form slouchy grids or suggestions of squalid white on white architectural outlines can be seen in Elenore Weber's Grid 10, 1996 and Grid 5, 1996.

Quite outstanding are Margaret Evangeline's three paintings on board, each titled Persephone, 1995. Her knowing layering and scumbling of white streams and eddies of egg emulsion with their incidental drips and splatters and effaced circles of purple paint move across her surfaces in a seemingly casual way that belies the knowing control of hand and brush and eye. These works create an evanescent sense of the quietude of passing light during different parts of the day. (These paintings may be hard to find. They are located in the very back of the exhibition space on the right wall next to the window as you face the desk.)

In contrast, we have Suzan Batu's work which makes itself known like a miniature marching band as opposed to Evangeline's melodic flute tones. Syncopated segments of glitter, glitter paper on canvas, and fake jewels make these small paintings look a bit like playful gift boxes that transform themselves into little kitschy sweet tempered icons. Michael Finch's complimentary colors of interpenetrating splatters and shimmering bars on his paintings create surfaces that are also optically charged and vibrant, but in a more reserved way than Batu's.

Andre von Morissey's Untitled (Rain), 1996 shows us a deftly painted, and moodily vertiginous view of rain drops forming intersecting patterns of circles reflecting the clouds above. Underneath this main panel, a long, narrow canvas gives us yet another view of nature, and its atmospheric effects, by allowing us the sensation of seeing a stylized horizon line of an undifferentiated natural locale. The other representational artist in this exhibition, Lori Taschler, offers small miniature oil paintings on wood with depicted swimming pool scenes that are filled with a remarkably subdued sense of slowed time. Amanda Church's post-pop imagery in her painting Die Fliegende Knockwurste, 1996 combines subliminal references to a smiley-face, hot dogs and the sexual biomorphic suggestiveness of a Hans Belmer to create a truly strange and off-beat image which is genuinely unnerving.

This is the second exhibition for this new gallery, and the hours are limited, unfortunately, so beware. The gallery hours for this exhibition are Friday and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and by appointment. Cloudy days are a must to be avoided if you want to enjoy this exhibition.

Copyright ©1996 Dominique Nahas & REVIEW All Rights Reserved

Dominique Nahas is former chief curator of contemporary art at Everson Museum and former director of the Neuberger Museum. He is now an independent curator, critic and art historian.