4.20.2008

Painting: Not Always about Size

Other posts about the New York art fairs:
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Big Black Objects
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Armory Show: Thomas Nozkowski, untitled paintings from 2001 and 2002, at Pace Wildenstein, New York City

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Thomas Nozkowski is one of my favorite painters. His vision, strongly geometric and vaguely narrative, is unique. And I admire immensely the way he remains true to his vision--not only esthetically but dimensionally. His small easel-size paintings contain a universe of images and ideas. (Tomma Abts is another, and I expect to write about both in greater detail later in the month, as both have shows up now: Nozkowski at Pace; Abts at the New Museum).

At the moment, however, I'm still mining my hoard of art fair images. (And who knew that my timing of this post would coincide with Roberta Smith's paean to petite in today's New York Times?) In addition to Nozkowski's paintings in the Pace Wildenstein booth, there was a wall of quiet, mostly achromatic paintings by Avis Newman at Lisson Gallery; both big-name galleries at the Armory Show. There were some small paintings that stood out at Red Dot, too: those by Sarah Lutz and Anne Neely at Lohin Geduld, and Charles Burwell and Tim McFarlane at Bridgette Mayer. Most of these latter artists work larger as well, but it was the small work that held the big draw.

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Armory Show: Small paintings by Avis Newman in acrylic and graphite at Lisson Gallery, London. This was, for me, the most contemplative installation in the bustling venue.
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Below, a closer look at one work, about 12 x 12 inches


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Red Dot: Sarah Lutz (top) and Anne Neely at Lohin Geduld, New York City. What a pairing, each image anchored by a dark horizontal element at the bottom of the canvas.

I am particularly enamored of Neely's small canvases, whose horizontals create an unmistakable sense of landscape while retaining an unshakable grasp on geometry




Red Dot: Charles Burwell (foreground) and Tim McFarlane (grid of four) at Bridgette Meyer, Philadelphia. Tim's a buddy, and his larger paintings are familiar to me; the small ones were the perfect size for the modest proportions of the room. Burwell's work is new to me. I want to follow it for a while.
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4 comments:

vc said...

Someone said small is the new big, which might sound flippant until we realize that anything can go from mode of inquiry to stylistic prerequisite. This is not intended to diminish (haha) the artists pictured here.
Newman said the only way to achieve content is through scale, and he added, "human scale." Well anything can be human scaled, right? IN the way that it relates to humans. A big scary Serra or an intimate Nozkowski. It sounds useless and circular, but I think a work of art should convince you that it needs to be the size it is.

Joanne Mattera said...

"I think a work of art should convince you that it needs to be the size it is."

I think you're right, VC. I assume you're convinced by the paintings shown in this post?

Glad you've posted here. It gives me a chance to tell you how much I liked "Building Picturing" at the Painting Center last fall--really good selections of work with a structural foundation and/or a material sensibility (though the title, with its double gerunds, was a challenge to the eye and the tongue...)

Anonymous said...

http://parksartworks.blogspot.com

vc said...

Hey, thanks for liking the show. It was a great experience. Kalm came! But I wish I'd got to meet you.
I thank Carrie Patterson for bringing me in for that.
I tell my students to avoid gerunds.