Systems that Dazzle

Two current exhibitions--Gabriel Evertz: The Gray Question at Minus Space in Dumbo (through the 31st), and 1960s Hard Edge Painting: DC, LA, NY at D. Wigmore Fine Art on Fifth Avenue in Midtown (through Nov. 6)--afford us a look, spanning half a century and three major cities, of paintings in which flat color, pristine geometry and systematic compositions hold sway. 

Above: Gabriele Evertz, Intensification (Come Closer), 2014, acrylic on canvas over panel, 60 x 60 inches. Gallery photo

Below: Gene Davis, Royal Veil, 171, acrylic on canvas, 93 x 110 inches

We start with the contemporary painter, Gabriel Evertz. In her solo show, the veteran painter introduces an achromatic spectrum into her signature stripe paintings. The result is an undulating field of color inflected and affected by gray. What you may not see until you get up close, really close, is that while the chromatic stripes are rigorously parallel, the grays are painted at an angle. That is to say that in the thickness of one stripe, two extremely acute angles of slightly different values are painted; what starts out thick at the top tapers to nothing at the bottom, while what starts out thick at the bottom tapers to nothing at the top. It's subtle but potent. So now when you find yourself falling visually into the painting you'll know why.

By the way, the new Minus Space is sublime.

Evertz installation view looking to the back wall of the gallery

Below, the painting you also see at right in the installation view:
RYBG (Agent), 2015, acrylic on canvas over panel, 60 x 60 inches. Gallery photo

Here's a detail of RYGB (Agent)'s angled grays

Installation view looking toward the front. Lens distortion makes the painting in foreground look rectangular when it's actually square, which you can see below

RGB (Three Brothers), 2015, acrylic on canvas over panel, 60 x 60 inches. Gallery photo

At the venerable D. Wigmore Fine Art, Deedee Wigmore and Emily Lenz have assembled, as they do with each exhibition, a museum-worthy collection. Here it's hard-edge paintings from the 1960s (and 1970s). It's instructive to note the differences from these three big cities. While the Washington painters worked largely on unprimed canvas, the Los Angeles group worked in oil, and the New Yorkers in acrylic. Medium may not be immediately or even necessarily apparent so much as the result, which is optically compelling both compositionally and chromatically. You can read Emily Lenz's essay here

Installation view: Thomas Downing on far wall, Paul Reed, Downing, Tadasky, Julian Stanczak 

Three by Paul Reed, each 1962, acrylic on canvas, 34 x 34 inches
with detail below:

Thomas Downing, Tadasky, Stanczak with detail of Tadasky below

C-185 (Four Color Shift, 1965, acrylic on canvas, 56 x 56 inches

From farther back looking toward the front. Middle ground: black and white paintings by Bill Kommodore and Richard Anuszkiewicz; foreground, Frederick Hammersley and John McLaughlin

From mid gallery looking to the back: There's a better view of the Anuszkiewicz at left, and Bill Kommodore on the wall between the windows. Far right there's a peek at a small Gene Davis, which you can see better below

Gene Davis with detail 

Karl Benjamin, #36, 1964, oil on canvas, 50 x 50 inches

Two more by Benjamin

(The last interview Benjamin gave before he died in 2012 was to Julie Karabenick at Geoform. Read it here. You will also find interviews with Julian Stanczak and Tadasky)


"August Geometry" at Marcia Wood Gallery

. Walk-Through: "Summer Show at dm contemporary 
. Walk-Through: "Going Big"on the Lower East Side 

Atlanta in August is a bit hot for my Northeast sensibility, but when my longtime gallerist and friend, Marcia Wood, decided pretty much at the last minute to organize a show centered on geometric abstraction at her gallery, I was there. Drawing from her roster as well as some invited artists, Wood put together a fabulous show in her new midtown space. I'm in the show, so this is not a review or even a report, but a Walk-Through--a visual visit to the exhibition, which is up through September 5.

Update, August 26: "This inspired group show is situated somewhere between a trip into non-Euclidean spaces and the sort of mathematical surrealism Lewis Carroll inserted into Alice in Wonderland."--Jerry Cullum for ArtsATL 

Panoramic view shot from the center of the gallery looking toward the entrance. Click pic to enlarge

With the entrance at my left shoulder and the office at my back, I'm going to take you on a clockwise tour of this front gallery and then of the large middle gallery, and then of a cozy back gallery.
From left: Scott Eakin; on right wall: Justin Rabideau, Jeff Conefry, Kevin Finklea

Scott Eakin, Broken Color Series #18, acrylic on panel; gallery photo

Justin Rabideau, Filling in the Blanks, salvaged wood shims and plaster

Jeff Conefry, Untitled "Support", acrylic and panel

Kevin Finklea, Free Falling Divisions #18, poplar-clad poplar on birch veneer

We're in the middle gallery now, looking toward the front. That's Scott Eakin's painting in the distance. Here from left: Clark Derbes, Finklea, Frances Barth, Conefry

Clark Derbes, Hunter, carved and polychromed elm

Continuing along that first long wall: Finklea, Barth, Conefry, Mary Judge, Richard Harris

Kevin Finklea, Geary Street, acrylic on sapelle

Frances Barth, This is "hideaway," acrylic and ink on panel; gallery photo

Jeff Conefry, Untitled "Flat"

Mary Judge, Dome Deco II, oil on canvas
Detail below

Clark Derbes carved and polychromed elm sculpture, Aldous, with Harris, Finklea and Derbes on the wall behind

Kevin Finklea, For the Will of Persephone #2, acrylic on Baltic plywood

Clark Derbes, Gregory, carved and polychromed silver maple

Stepping back to see three additional pieces, described below:

Clark Derbes, Moses, carved and polychromed maple

Duncan Johnson, Tusk, wood

Jeff Conefry, Untitled, acrylic

With Derbes's totemic Aldous in the foreground (and note the color shift in this different view), we turn to the third wall of the main gallery . . .

Scott Eakin, Justin Rabidean, Joanne Mattera

Moving into the corner . . .

Joanne Mattera, Bask, encaustic on panel (triptych) and . . .

. . . Chromatic Geometry 6, encaustic on panel

We're now facing the fourth wall of the gallery 

Gudrun Mertes-Frady, High Wire, oil and metallic pigments on linen
(I shot it from an angle so that you can see the metallic shimmer of the line)

Before we exit the gallery we're going to do an about face and walk to the back gallery . . .

. . . where we see the work of Richard Harris, Tom Flowers, Justin Rabideau, Duncan Johnson, and Scott Eakin

Richard Harris, Untitled Asemic Shape #3, acrylic on canvas
Detail below

Justin Rabideau, Shim #7

Tim Flowers, Imprint (ELB), oil on panel; gallery photo
Installation below

We're walking back out. I put this panorama in because I love the way it shows the space, as well as the placement and scale of the work
Click pic to enlarge

In the office: Eakin, Derbes, Conefry

Jeff Conefry, Two Stripe, acrylic and linen on panel

Bearing in mind that this is a Walk-Through and not a review, allow me nevertheless to offer a few comments.The revival of geometric abstraction--or perhaps just the continued long life of this particular mode of expression--is allowed a good deal of latitude in Marcia Wood's selections. There's a strong sense of materiality in many of the works.

As a participant and viewer, I can say that I appreciate the finely crafted and finished, with Kevin Finklea's sculptures a prime exponent; the handcrafted with a strong sense of the hand, as Clark Derbes's and Duncan Johnson's works demonstrate; and a strong provisional sensibility, as evidenced in the work of Jeff Conefry and Justin Rabideau.

Wood has selected paintings that are more generally precise in their angles and curves, but Frances Barth's abstraction evinces an organic rigor, and I must thank Wood for suggesting we bring out a large triptych of mine from storage in which intuition rather than measurement was the guiding force.

And did I mention that I love the title of the show? August Geometry is not just a late-summer exhibition but one in which geometric abstraction is celebrated, maybe even exalted.

More info on the gallery website and Facebook page.