Tim Lefens
Judith Klein Gallery through May 24

by Jeanne C. Wilkinson

This gallery, tucked into the lower level of looming stone buildings of the Wall Street district, is showing the tasty abstractions of Tim Lefens. Most of the paintings are purely white, with names like Bonafacio and Ajaccio (all works undated on the exhibition's check-list) and painted in the same rich off-white tone. As the smooth and creamy pigment spreads out from the center of each rectangle, texture begins to form around the edges so that there is a kind of surface geography adding to the abundant tactility of the work. One exception to the rich whiteness is a smaller painting, Santa Teresa, that is an even richer blood red the surface is smooth and shimmery with thick coagulated color.

The works on paper also have texture around the edges, but it rises abruptly instead of organically from the flat plane. The entire surfaces are sprayed with subtle layers of paint, giving them a look of high relief. Lefens' paintings are like recent work of Jules Olitski, the artist who was called the best living painter by Clement Greenberg in his later years. Mr. Greenberg had decided at that time that the best art rose from the picture plane, defying flatness and two-dimensionality with heavy rifts of texture. Mr. Lefens' work was also well known and appreciated by the late art critic.

But the works on paper in this exhibition do not have the integrity of surface that make the paintings work so well they seem somewhat forced. The paintings, on the other hand, are part of a continuing tradition within abstraction, with their own particular and appealing presence.

Editor's Note: This Gallery is open to the public noon to six, Mon.-Fri.

Copyright ©1997 Jeanne C. Wilkinson & REVIEW All Rights Reserved