Paintings and Process--Thirty Years Apart

Larry Poons at Jacobson Howard: Festinniog, 1975, acrylic on canvas, 78 x 69.5 inches

If you read this blog regularly, you know that while geometry is a recurring theme, I'm just as interested in material and process. It is those two latter issues we'll consider in this post via a couple of New York shows--one still up, the other now closed--both with references to nature.

Larry Poons at Jacobson Howard Gallery through March 1

"Throw, Pour, Drip, Spill and Splash" offers a fine selection of Poons’s paintings from the Seventies and Eighties. True to the title of the show, these are paintings at their most process intensive. Layers of paint in frozen rivulets and and richly encrusted surfaces still resonate with the energy of their making, an effect heightened by their large size in relation to the two small rooms of the Upper East Side gallery in which they’re shown.

There was nothing in the gallery information that made reference to landscape, yet the paintings themselves recall all manner of nature and of the payssage: mossy earth, flowered fields, waterfalls. Perhaps I'm reading them too literally, but I see what I see. lllglg

Tantrum 2, 1979, acrylic on canvas, 65 x 165 inches

Detail below

Carolanna Parlato at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, through Feb. 2

Downtown, in "Nature Games," a show that closed on February 2, Carolanna Parlato showed work in the same vein. While her m.o. would seem to cover the same territory as Poons, her process is much more controlled; the enamel-like paint flowed and dripped but only, it seems, until she said, "Stop." The paintings are worked in saturated, uninflected colors, yet the topographical quality of the pentimenti and the substantiveness of the drips show you just how much dimension "flat" can have. (Both painters work in acrylic, by the way.)

Parlato makes a direct reference to landscape in her statement, but I see her elements more as land mass. It's the process here that engages me, and the pleasure of materiality that is just under--and essential to--that glossy surface.

Installation view: Carolanna Parlato at the Elizabeth Harris Gallery, "Nature Games"

Below: The Kiss, 2007, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 80 inches; image from the gallery website

What Goes Up, 2007, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches; image from the gallery website
Detail below:
The edge gives you some sense of the push/pull Parlato has managed so well
I’m not one to ascribe gender to painting, but I feel comfortable saying that the Poons paintings are genuinely beautiful—in part because of the lovely pink and lavender-tinted palette—while Parlato’s are muscular and handsome. Either show would have been satisfying to me on its own, but seeing them in the same period was more than doubly rewarding as the experience challenged ideas of time (they were painted almost 30 years apart), landscape , gender and materiality.


Andrea and Kim said...

These are really very, very beautiful! I am a great fan of this style and find the quite appealing.

You have a wonderful blog here. I look forward to returning to explore often.

Eva / Sycamore Street Press said...

love parlato's colors and shapes. it's great getting to see ny exhibitions through your site.

anne mcgovern said...

30 years apart and equally fascinating!