By Dewit Cheng
Proving that postminimalists, too can have soul are sculptor Albert Dicruttalo and painter Mitch Jones. Dicruttalo studied computer-aided design and worked as chief assistant for the veteran sculptor Bruce Beasley, so there’s a shared sensibility in the interpenetrating geometric forms that both artists use: instead of Beasley’s pulled polygons, however, Dicruttalo combines hemispheres and sectioned tubes on his computer screen, as well as in drawings and maquettes, and he fabricates them in his Oakland foundry. Though geometric and abstract, works like Deus Ex Machina have deliberate psychological readings, evoking the human condition without anthropomorphism; they’re intel- lectual puzzles with a surprising emotional weight. The human factor in Jones’ abstract Rhyme and Rhythm paintings emanates from the collaged elements that he resurrects and recontextualizes: handwritten sheets from old ledger books, newspaper articles, and illustrated pages from ancient books with steel engravings. He cuts these faded documents so that they become illegible, or rotates them, and pastes them into strips suggesting handwriting, or into columns, alternating the monochrome elements with blocks of pure oil paint, which Jones likens to doors or windows, citing the traditional metaphors for pictorial space. From a distance, we read the works as abstractions, or mys- teriously coded data: up close, we discern that these “dynamic visual symphonies” to use the artist-musician’s words, are built of scraps of human history. “Dicruttalo/Jones” runs from May 1 to June 14 at Andrea Schwartz Gallery.
“My mind was seeing too many things. I needed a rest,” Hazan said recently as she led a visitor on a tour of the works. “I needed to see something minimal and crisp. Something clean and calm.”
“On the Edge,” an exhibit of eight artists who see the world through its endless displays of patterns, lines and shapes, is just that.
Hazan, who curated the exhibit, concedes that many of the individual pieces are not always calm—Steven Baris’s work, she says, is a study in “spatial tension” and Matt Devine’s steel sculptures are trying to “quell internal struggle”—but when seen together, the combination does have a calming effect on the viewer.
Indeed, the works play off each other with surprising symbiosis.
Take one gallery alcove devoted to the work of three artists. A piece by Mitch Jones—bold red stripes laid across the pages of old ledgers and books—that might have assaulted the eye soothes instead when paired with a joyous work by Jon Elliott titled Conjoining Swirls, it is a swirl of ceramic fragments affixed to the wall that seems ready to take off in all directions.
Rounding off the trio and speaking in a quieter, more intellectual voice is the work of Ivan Stojakovic, who takes apart ordinary tables to show what lies beneath the surface. What is revealed in his piece here (White Out) is a delightful honeycomb pattern that only on close inspection tells its secret. It is the cardboard innards found in the millions of tables and other furniture sold by Ikea and other mass producers. Stojakovic’s deconstruction is, in fact, a means to “violate, refashion and refurbish the readymades,” according to the artist’s statement.
Hazan says that the first works she acquired for this show were those of Mitch Jones and Charles Christopher Hill, whose A Seat at the Table is a series of bands of color covered with acrylic.
“Then I said to myself, ‘That would be a very busy show and against what I wanted to accomplish,’” she recalled. “So I added other patterns.” When the show was almost complete, Hazan said she realized something was missing: geometry. She called Steven Baris, whose Somewhere Beyond filled the bill with his canvases of angular shapes and perpendicular lines.
Hazan notes that this show is a departure for the gallery, which usually features more established artists. On advice from her two assistants, both artists, she made studio visits to artist in Bushwick who had been in few, if any, shows. The sense of discovery energized her.
“These artists are so talented, so brilliant,” she said.
Not all the artists are young and unheralded. Cesar Paternosto, born in Argentina in 1931 and living in New York, in some way sets the tone for the show. A well-known abstract painter, he has reduced his work to a few bars of colors that hug the edges of the white canvas. Rather than feeling empty, the work communicates a welcome silence. It is just what Hazan was hoping for.
Anyone who lives in this city, even in the quieter corners of Downtown, would welcome the respite that this show offers. Go take a look.
“On the Edge” at Cheryl Hazan Contemporary Art, 35 North Moore St., cherylhazan.com. To Feb. 9.
Collage and geometry are the connecting threads of this show of six artists, each of whom approach picture making differently. Their differences preclude much internal dialogue, but the “silence” is golden. The best of these works speak for themselves in a variety of “tongues,” the most prominent being that of Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) whose Mertz pictures –built of cut-up newspapers, packaging and studio detritus — created a stir by demonstrating how abstraction can be achieved by alternate means.
Berkeley-based Barbara Kronlins puts a Pop-influenced spin on that impulse. She interleaves snippets of cardboard and paper product packaging with drawings of her own making into multi-layered works in which densely packed pieces resolve into energetic field “paintings” when viewed from a distance. You can revel in the intricacy of their assembly and try to infer criticality from the text snippets, but that would be reading too much into them. With Kronlins, what you see is what you get, and that’s all for the good.
For the Denver-based abstractionist Emilio Lobato, Constructivism has long been a guiding force. His trio of dark, spare collages is built of sharp-edged geometric shapes affixed to panels with gold brads. The forms overlap and interlock, neatly in some places and loosely in others. What governs our reception of them isn’t the juxtaposition of shapes, it’s the appearance of recognizable objects: rulers. They not only organize the space, they literalize the concept of “measuring up,” interrogating pictures and viewers simultaneously. The question asked is how do we assess value, and its appearance in this context unnerves because it is unexpected.
Andrew Burgess combines swatches of painted paper to make cityscapes (of SF and Manhattan) in which space is delineated solely by shape and color. Working within these seemingly narrow parameters he manages to impart an amazing amount of spatial and textural information. In doing so, he appears to be poking fun at Photorealism while slotting himself into current trends in landscape painting, which emphasize flatness. This he counteracts (somewhat) by mixing horizontal and vertical brushstrokes, which alternate directionally between segments. Overall, the works have a deadpan feel, but they’re not without humor. His rendering of sea and sky in solid shades of blue injects levity, balancing the stolid, patchwork depiction of skyscrapers.
Tom Bolles, a minimalist, searches for deep space and finds it in many-layered canvases that give off ethereal fields of light, but also harbor, at indeterminate depths, flickering shadows. The large bright orange canvas (Paris) that greets visitors feels too Rothko-esque, but the small jade-green canvas on the back wall, Sweet Suite # 1, is a gem; it shows Bolles at the peak of his powers, extracting light from a darkly painted canvas that, at first glance, seems impenetrable. Painter Luis Garcia-Nerey weighs in with two works, one large, one small, combining photography, figuration and contour drawing, while David Jansheski offers a black and white monoprint populated with images from nature.
This modest show doesn't strive for all-inclusiveness; it aims only to present a few articulate practitioners of contemporary collage and assemblage, and in that it succeeds.
–DAVID M. ROTH
Read the review here.
"Sometimes art is at its most powerful when it takes a familiar scene and dislocates it just slightly, gives it a new context. We stop and look more closely because we suddenly see details we usually overlook, or even because the piece reminds us of something we’ve felt before. Narangkar Glover and Gwen Manfrin are a pair who employ very different techniques when it comes to their art-making, but in their two-person show at Andrea Schwartz Gallery’s beautiful new digs both artists exhibit a strong interest in the psychological aspects of experience and the interior life. Glover’s recent series of colossal landscapes depict contrasts between water and earth as a river carves its way through a canyon or torrents crash against high chasm walls. The paintings evoke powerful feelings of isolation through Glover’s use of perspective, placing the viewer right at the foot of those cliffs, and her mastery of darkness and light on the canvas. Manfrin by contrast concentrates almost exclusively on human bodies, specifically those of teenage girls, but the emotions associated with separation and uncertainty appear in her work as well. In drawings rendered almost photorealistic in graphite, Manfrin captures young women at that poignant moment between childhood and adulthood, when confidence battles self-consciousness. Glover and Manfrin peer right into the psyche itself."
See the link here
Check out the video by Jeremy Cohen of ASG's grand opening party
Andrea Schwartz Gallery: Narangkar Glover & Gwen Manfrin.
Review by Maria Medua: Oakland-based artist Narangkar Glover paints re-imagined landscapes that have powerful psychological resonance. Beginning with photographic source material, Glover pieces together pictorial fragments and makes preliminary charcoal drawings on canvas. She then develops the work in multiple layers of oil paint with intense, smoky brown colors. Her compositions include natural elements like striated rock formations, looming canyons and rapidly flowing rivers. These images quickly pique our appetite for mystery and danger. I recognize Glover's scenes from reoccurring dreams in which I relive my previous day's events as fantastic episodes in wild locales. Like Gothic fiction, these paintings allow us to encounter things that are fascinating and tremendous within the safe confines of art.
Glover's tour de force is a painting called "Collins Canyon." The piece is large at more than five feet tall and wide. The way it is hung, a little low and in close quarters, does not allow you to get much distance from it. You are placed within the picture. Glover's threateningly strong current of dark water, created with a bold horizontal application of paint, seems like it would be impossible to swim across. This painting can be experienced in a remarkably physical way. It tries to pull you off shore and you have to do your best not to be submerged by it. Then it throws you a lifeline. The horizon at the upper most portion of the canvas offers just the slightest hint of light, encouraging you to pull your head up out of the water and strain towards safety.
Gwen Manfrin's colored pencil drawings may also bring back recurring dreams-- the ones where you are back in high school and you can't remember the combination to your locker or the date of the Louisiana Purchase.
The majority of her work depicts teenage girls which are of interest for Manfrin because, "social dislocation is particularly intriguing in the adolescent world, one so painfully full of angst in the desire to belong." A charming image, "Rescue" captures youthful exuberance as one girl gives another a piggy-back ride. The series "Understatement I-V," consists of five portraits of bared mid-driffs. The coarse denim micro shorts, while not covering much of the body, provide Manfrin with ample folds, frayed edges, gabardine textures and shadows to prove her ability. The "Understatements" are anonymous portraits-- more depictions of women in general and the subject of fertility specifically.
Manfrin also includes two drawings of her elderly mother which speak to the final phase of life. Here we see how intuitive draftsmanship can gently reveal aspects of personality and shed light on a compelling theme. The portraits "#1 Mom" and especially, "Over the Rainbow," bring all the stages of a woman's life full circle-- we see this person as a mother, as an individual, and thanks to Manfrin's skillful hand, someone with the glimmer of youth still in her eyes.
Buller has produced lyrical paintings — "Beach Crowd," "Small Group," "Foam," "Yellow Umbrella," "Every One" — that make the human spectacle both engaging and immediate, and remake the case for painting. Despite whatever else happens in art as technology marches on, these images are timely and timeless. - DeWitt Cheng
Read more here
"Festival" (2012) holds its own as a chromatic chord, enriched by the discovery that Dintino paints by hand what might appear at first to be airbrushed. Unlike much so-called stripe painting, Dintino's has an inviting, pillowy quality that encourages the eye to repose in it, and perhaps to discover how difficult accepting that invitation can be. - Kenneth Baker
Thanks to all who made it out to the opening last week. We are loving the new space and are looking forward to more openings to come. Please come by and see "Euphoria" by Patrick Dintino, up through October 5th. More shots of the opening on our facebook page here.
Thanks to Nellie Tran for her great article on our new space at 545 4th Street. Read it here.
Out of Print will focus on the book as a sculptural object. The exhibit will feature 10 contemporary artists who have deconstructed and reconfigured the book into something new. Through folding, carving, photographing, slicing, warping, dissecting and stacking, books are transformed from vessels of text and into beautiful abstract forms.
The pieces in this exhibition explore new and unexpected layers of meaning that go beyond the book as a source of information, offering a fresh examination of the role of the book in an increasingly digital-oriented world.
Participating Artists: Doug Beube, Alex Queral, Jacqueline Rush Lee, Mike Stilkey, Jim Rosenau, Guy Laramée, Cara Barer, Robert The, Brian Dettmer and Mary Ellen Bartley.
More information here
Seamus Conley will be showing work in The Contemporary Figure: Past Presence at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History. The exhibition opens tomorrow, September 6th and will be up through November 24th. More information can be found at MOAH's website.
Andrea Schwartz Gallery owners Andrea and Steve are proud to announce they have acquired a new gallery space at 545 4th Street. While we complete the new construction, stay tuned here for images and details on the opening date. More to come!