Lines and Curves

Two current exhibitions take us through very different journeys with color and geometry: Archeo, Kim Uchiyama at Lohin Geduld (up through October 9) , and Recent Paintings, Suzan Frecon at David Zwirner (up through the 30th). .
Kim Uchiyama at Lohin Geduld: View on the wall to the right as you enter. The rhythm of the paintings is heightened by their uniform size and the spacing of each work in the installation ..

Kim Uchiyama shows easel-size paintings, all 20 x 16 inches, oil on canvas. Her approach is direct: She uses the format of the stripe to create color relationships. These are not Gene Davis stripes of flat uninflected color, nor are they Sean Scully bands of heavy impasto. They are Uchiyama stripes: varied-width bands of color, luminous and chromatically resonant, applied horizontally—sometimes with a light and flat touch, other times with a heavily laden brush. I don’t know whether or not these paintings began as sketches, but it’s clear Uchiyama developed them intuitively. Indeed, not only have the paintings been built up, hue over hue with hints of color previously laid down, they have also been scraped back selectively, offering "overheard" glimpses of studio conversations that have taken place between the artist and work the over time..

.Swinging around counter clockwise, this is the view that faces you when you enter
Continuing counterclockwise, with the support column as your marker, you see the work on the wall to the left of the entryway. I've taken you around this way because I want to show you the painting just to the right of the column . . .
Stratum, 2008-10, oil on canvas
All of the paintings in this show offer glimpses of their archeology (and I like them all), but I happened to have a good detail of this one: .
Uchiyama has cannily combined the modernist stripe with the most suggestive element of landscape painting: the horizon. It's not the line itself that suggests landscape but her handling of the view into and beyond it by means of the layering and scraping. What's more, she has compressed into each painting any number of views from different times of day, of ocean and land, and of the light or darkness that always lies tantalizingly just beyond. Al di la, the Italians call it, over there. It's also another way of saying heaven.
At Zwirner, Susan Frecon shows large paintings, nine feet high, which are composed of two rectangular panels placed one above the other. The result is a format longer than it is wide, with a horizontal that bisects each painting. Here that bisecting line can read as a horizon, so it’s a struggle to see beyond the "mountains" and "lakes" of her curved forms. I don’t want landscape associations to get in the way of her reductive compositionsas everything I have read about the work tells me that is not her intentionbut with their earth colors and mineral pigments, the paintings are very much rooted to the notion of terrestrial.
While her hues have a deep richness, Frecon is not a colorist. In part because the often high gloss of the oil requires you to move around each painting to find a suitable viewing spot, there’s a lot of physical interaction with each work. When you do connect, it’s not ultimately about the hue but about the relationships of the curve to that insistent horizontal, as well as to the varying curves of the arcs themselves. Color heightens those relationships, of course.
Above: View as you enter the gallery with composition in four colors 2 in the foreground . . .
. . . with a closer look, below, below at the painting on the far wall:

.pompeiian persian, 2010
All the works are oil on panel, 108 x 87 3/8 inches, composed of two panels .

View into the far gallery; image from the gallery website
This is difficult work to photograph. That brown painting in the distance is actually the painting posted individually above, and I'm pretty sure that the one just to its right in this image is, soforouge, which was included in the recent Whitney Biennial

This painting, cathedral series, variation 6, 2010, is on the wall facing the painting that opens this section. You can see its subtleties better in the image below:

.composition in four colors, 1, 2009

From the main gallery, you walk through this hallway to get to the viewing room where the small paintings are. A tour of the exhibition on the gallery website may help orient you better than these few images can
I’m impressed by the muscle and intent of the large paintings, but it’s to the small studies that I am most compellingly drawn. So intimate they are, so completely at one with color, shape and scale. I love them.
Above and below, cathedral series, variation 4, 2009, oil on wood panel, 14 7/8 x 12 x 1 inches


annell4 said...

Thank you so much, really wonderful post!

Kristofir said...

Amazing stripe paintings!
I can't believe how each stripe in Uchiyama's paintings really pops off the canvas and looks as if it is illuminated. Amazing sense of "intuitive" colour relationships!

Tamar said...

Uchiyama's paintings are so luminous--looking forward to seeing them in person. And I love your description of the archeology of the surfaces.

Stephanie Sachs said...

Been waiting for the Suzan Frecon show so thanks for keeping me posted. Even on Zwriner's' site the paintings are difficult to see. Enjoyed hearing your experience.

Ian MacLeod said...

Fabulous work by both artists Joanne.
Thanks for posting and showing the detail of Kim Uchiyama's painting "Stratum". And I love the drama of Susan Frecon's work. I have a sense they must almost feel like a 'hard edge' Rothko.

Kate Beck said...

Joanne -- just awesome, thanks
(little Frecon's... wow...)

Kathy said...

Great post! Love the commentary.

green painting in brooklyn ny said...

Perfect!! Love the detailing of the paints and beautifully presented. Great work Joanne