On the Geometric Trail: Part Five

On the Geometric Trail, in Chelsea

On the Geometric Trail, Part Two: SoHo

On the Geometric Trail, Part Three: Isensee

"Geometric Abstraction" at McKenzie Fine Art
Through February 9

Don Voisine: Poised, 2007, oil on wood, 20 x 20 inches

Valerie McKenzie always puts on a good show. This group exhibition brings together gallery and invited artists to examine the multiplicity of sources and expressions of geometric art. Artists in the show are Chris Gallagher, whose gently curving stripes suggest the celestial, like rings around Saturn; Kim MacConnell, with saturated abstractions reminiscent of Matisse and Picasso; and Shari Mendelson, whose chandelier-like sculptures play with light and shadow. You can see their work on the gallery website.

Here I'm homing in on the three whose geometry resonated most strongly for me: Don Voisine, whose work opens this post; Jennifer Riley, whose paintings have been turning up everywhere lately (including at McKenzie Fine Art's booth at Art Miami and OH&T's booth at Aqua Wynwood); and Ann Pibal, whose small-scale paintings are surprisingly poetic for their stark linearity.

Jennifer Riley: This installation shot looks into the office from the gallery. Foreground, Remedy for Blunt Footing, 2007, oil on canvas, 54 x 40 inches; office: Into the Maelstrom, 2007, oil on canvas, 44 x 60 inches

Riley's work suggests landscapes and topographies--mountains, rolling hills--but in a geometric style that references computerized maps. The deep space offered to the viewer is all the more compelling for the flatness of the surface. The push/pull of these elements, with the addition of gorgeous color, makes the work irresistible.

Don Voisine's geometry is much more austere: reductive and smack up against the picture plane. But up close his austerity is softened by surprisingly gentle surfaces--one soft, velvety black; another not quite shiny but not quite matte; yet another with the light shimmer of unexpected brushstrokes. Indeed, the picture plane opens more deeply than a first look would suggest. You need to spend time with this work. I'd call it "tender constructivism."

Don Voisine: Above, an installation in the office looking into the gallery at the painting shown below. Below, Delayed Green, 2007, oil on wood, 32 x 63 inches

Ann Pibal: Above, TRPSH, 2007, acrylic on aluminum, 12 3/4 x 18 1/2 inches; below, B-Line (v.2), 2007, acrylic on aluminum, 13 x 19 1/4 inches

Pibal's paintings, unique in their small scale and lovely color, nevertheless allow me to make some visual connections within geometric abstraction: to Miriam Schapiro's famous Ox painting, currently part of the "Wack" show (opening February 17 at PS 1) to Frank Stella's early geometries, and to Warren Isensee's Body and Soul, which I posted recently. You'd think there's only so much you can do with the same shapes and angles, but the connections, the variations, the subtleties, all filtered through the eye and hand of the artist, are endlessly new. Pibal's work reminds me of all that.

1 comment:

anne mcgovern said...

Having thought I had exhausted all the stripe variations within me, your current post featuring Ann Pibal's work makes it clear I'm not done yet. Thanks Joanne.