Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New York Dispatch: Abstraction in the Bowery - 3 recent exhibitions about abstraction

     The language of abstraction has a fluidity that has been prevalent in modern and contemporary art. Three recent exhibitions in the Bowery demonstrate the range in which abstraction can visually explore both the natural world, the man-made world and world created by the artist within the work itself.

     In the two person exhibition at Kristen Lorello gallery featuring the paintings of Halsey Hathaway and the sculpture of Julia Kunin, the works communicate with each other with a cubist language. The small gallery is a site where the curves and color of Hathaway's paintings relate with the angles and edges of Kunin's sculptures. Hathaway's paintings remind me of Robert Mangold's curves of his earlier work with a polychromatic infusion within each curve and structure of the composition. Kunin's ceramic sculpture seem almost natural; as if some great force of nature carved each work. Kunin's sculptures glistens in the light as the angles and cubes protrude from within and outside. Both Hathaway and Kunin are steeped in an internal language of abstraction that play with each other in forms and composition. Angles correspond with curves, line relate to form, and solid mass with plane. Like the way in which a gem is cut and molded, Hathaway and Kunin create a multifaceted environment within the gallery.

     Sao Paulo based painter Caetano de Almeida's paintings at R11, just down the hall from Kristen Lorello, demonstrates an artist's ability to explore the nature of abstraction as it references both the man-made world and the mythological. Almeida uses optics and patterns to explore both native Brazilian culture and references to myth and movement. Mandjet is a painting that refers to the boat that the Egyptian god Ra would travel, also known as the Boat of Million Years. Optically simple with orange, yellow and red lines, Almeida manages to construct a detail that leaves the viewer in another place and time. Abstraction references the movement across the canvas by almost unraveling the squares and composition; almost like fabric coming apart. Mademoiselle forms and shapes on canvas seem to trace dance moves on the picture plane. By using abstraction as a point of reference and thus leading the viewer to something beyond the canvas, abstraction becomes a language used by Almeida to connect with the viewer and relate to something more than the work itself.

   Elliott Green's exhibition "Human Nature" at Pierogi connects a traditional approach to abstraction and at the same time creating a new context for abstract painting. From the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Monet, Cezanne, and others explored abstraction for the purpose of creating and portraying the landscape. Green's work uses a very identical approach by creating an landscapes from abstracted forms and layered painting. The paintings depict mountains and valleys. Geology and nature play a role in Green's paintings as the paint forms the landscape. When looking at the work, I often see Chinese landscape paintings in the way nature and form take hold of the canvas. Jana Prikryl notes in the essay for the catalog that, “Elliott Green’s paintings appear to be in continuous motion, the way animals, plants, and ultimately rocks and mountains are in continuous motion, even when our human vision fails to apprehend it. Placing great thick gestures of paint amid minute intricacies and vice versa, his compositions demonstrate the movement of the universe on both the macro and the micro scales.” Green thus uses abstraction as a way to form the natural world, It is the sublime vision that attracts Green's paintings to the viewer. It is the connection of the sublime to the Earth as landscape that connects both Green to early Modernist works. However, the approach to the world within each of his paintings creates something that is very 21st century.

   Three recent shows in the Bowery demonstrate how artists are creating abstract worlds. Abstraction is a language where successful works communicate to both the viewer and in many cases the works communicate with each other. It is not enough for a canvas to be populated with paint and content. Great abstraction takes the world, reconfigures it, and reframes it so the viewer is granted a new and positive experience. The shows at Kristen Lorello, R11, and Pierogi are examples of great abstraction that transcends the experience of the viewer and communicates a language that is distinctly contemporary,

Halsey Hathaway and Julia Kunin
Kristen  Lorello,
195 Chrystie Street #103 (Lobby), 
New York, NY 10002
March 1 - April 15

Caetano de Almeida
195 Chrystie St,
New York, NY, 10002
February 26 - March 26

Murta, 2016

Tapecaria, 2016

Mandjet, 2016

Abstraction, 2016

Mademoiselle, 2016 

Elliott Green "Human Nature"
155 Suffolk Street
New York, NY 10002
February 18 - March 26

#abstraction #r11gallery #kristelorellogallery #kristenlorello #painting #abstract #language #pierogi2000 #pierogi #elliottgreen #CaetanodeAlmeida #HalseyHathaway #Julia Kunin

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