2.02.2008

On the Geometric Trail: Part Three

On the Geometric Trail, in Chelsea
On the Geometric Trail, Part Two: SoHo


We’re back on the Geometric Trail. (Previous posts can be linked, above.) This time we’re visiting Danese Gallery, where Warren Isensee has a show up until the 9th of this month.



On the far wall, Body and Soul, 2007, oil on canvas, 78 x 120 inches. Foreshortened at left, Bipolar Express. We'll swing around to a full view of that painting.


I’m not sure there’s a more perfect space for this work than Danese's skylighted aerie. The high ceilings and broad loft expanse create a welcoming environment for paintings that resonate so visually they seem to radiate off the walls and into the the room.

Isensee employs rectilinear shapes that he limns and relimns to create forms within forms. There’s both a textile sensibility (like a Navajo chief blanket) and an architectural structure to the work (columned temples, perhaps) that come together to create intimacy and grandeur at the same time. They’d be hallucinogenic except that the palette is grounded in saturated earthen hues—like Fiestaware without the kitsch. On second thought, forget trippy. Those celadons and ochres, sienas and corals are rubbing up against one another to the point of retinal orgasm. Ahem, chromatic fervor.

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Let's continue our spin around the large main gallery:


Body and Soul, again, leading to . . .



. . . Scenic Overlook, 2007, oil on canvas, 65 x 94 inches. In the small gallery, a peek at High Beam.
You can see all of these works on the Danese Gallery website
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Scenic Overlook in the foreground with New Construction, 2007 oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches, on the far wall. Just to the right of New Construction is . . .

. . . a wall of framed colored pencil drawings. They're startling, because the are the line-by-line, color-by-color starting point for many of these big paintings. You can see the drawings for Body and Soul and New Construction second and third from left



This is not the best picture of a very fine painting (you can see the color much better on the gallery website), but I wanted to take you back to the starting point of our tour, where this painting was shown in greatly foreshortened perspective. It's Bipolar Express, 2007, oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches

Part of the visual excitement of Isensee's painting comes as much from the quality of the line as from the juxtaposition of the colors. It looks as if he paints the stripes with a flat brush, sans tape, so the ever-so-slight line variations within each stripe combine to generate many more visual watts than hue or color placement alone could do.

Next time: Ted Larsen's small dimensional geometries at OK Harris in SoHo, and Sol Lewitt's wall drawing uptown at Vivian Horan Fine Art; then back to Chelsea for "Geometric Abstraction," a group show at McKenzie Fine Art.

4 comments:

eva jorgensen said...

i just found your blog through a friend's...and am so happy that i did.

anne mcgovern said...

As a painter of stripes myself, I find Warren Isensee's work incredibly exciting, your review hits the proverbial nail right on the head.

Joanne Mattera said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joanne Mattera said...

Thanks, Eva and Anne--
It is a beautiful show, wildly energetic, and yet the formal aspect of the work keeps it from spinning out of control.