review of exhibitions

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review of exhibitions
REVIEW OF EXHIBITIONS
ham to Petah Coyne, Fred
Wilson, Josiah McElheny
and Joseph Grigely, suggesting a metaphor for lost
elegance. In Simmons's
hands, the delicate forms
reinforce a larger message that wafts free of
the confines of the work's
theoretical framework. The
drawings offered a fragile
beauty and scent of nostalgia, and perhaps that
should have been enough.
—Eleanor Heartney
Joseph Marioni
at Peter Blum
flank a central, contrasting section. Weighty eggplant-color
bands bookend the dominant
expanse—smoggy. vaguely vegetal—formed by a terre verte glaze
rolled out over a pale, sugary
violet. The earth green is
stretched thin toward the top of
this 10-by-11-foot work, where
little fissures in the membrane,
like runs in a nylon stocking,
reveal the underlying violet. The
gradual, top-to-bottom shift in
density is insignificant at close
range but distinct from a dozen
yards distant. The viewer is grateful for these more subtle visual
incidents, for there true drama
lurks, not in the histrionics of cascading pigment, or the quest, now
a bit dated, for a Greenbergian
fusion of paint and support.
With five hulking, dour
paintings, each billed
as "Painting, 2006" and
"acrylic and linen on
There was also a tall, dark
stretcher," Joseph Maripainting and a smaller, pale one.
View of Gary Simmons's exhibition "1964, • showing (left to right) In the Blink of an Eye
and Reflection of a Future Past, both 2006: at the Bohen Foundation.
oni somberly inaugurated The vagaries of the dark paintPeter Blum Chelsea. As
ing's ragged, 11-by-10-foot surface reveal undercoats of orange
he has for decades, the
and green, but in aggregate the
artist {or "The Painter," as he
up the whole of a red-painted
NEW YORK
palette yields a light-sucking
identifies himself) applies three
room, consisted of a scattering
reddish-black, hot and roiling. At
or four coats of color to a canvas
of grand chandeliers cribbed
Gary Simmons
with a roller that he wields without nearly 7 feet square, the smallest
from the 1964 Hitchcock thriller
at the Bohen Foundation Mamie. These elaborate objects a trace of irony. The paintings are painting's scrimlike, near-white
appeared to be greatly agitated,
bigger, and the paint looser, than top coat muffles underlying chifPlaying on the poetics of
fon yellow and mossy green, and
before, and now the top layer is
absence, Gary Simmons applied as they slid across corners and
mimics the light-filtering effect of
threatened
to
slip
out
of
the
frame
typically
thinned
to
a
glaze,
a
film
to enormous walls at the Bohen
the
frosted-glass window next
of
ceiling
and
wall
altogether.
through which the penultimate
Foundation three of his signato which it was positioned.
Taken together, the three draw- application is filtered. The tug of
ture "erased" pictures. The title
ings were studies in motion and
gravity allies Marioni with Morris
of the show, "1964," provided a
The conspicuous absence of
disappearance, presenting halfLouis, Norman Bluhm. even Paul artificial illumination in the galcontext for the otherwise enigrealized forms that seemed to be
matic chalk drawings. Barely
Jenkins, but rather than imparting lery, which sports four large
recognizable forms in blurry lines spinning themselves into oblivion. a sense of weightlessness to the skylights, struck a sanctimonious
In the context of the cited year,
stretched across vast monopaintings, the tradesmanlike facnote. To be sure, these paintings
they offered a nice metaphor for
chrome grounds. Each incorture and glossy surfaces empha- are primarily concerned with the
the fading of historical memory,
porated imagery dating from
size the works' massiveness.
unadulterated apprehension of
in which once-concrete objects
1964 chosen to represent the
color, and lighting them so as
Cn
the
gallery's
rear
wall
was
and events melt away to nothing
strangely dissonant consciousto
avoid chromatic distortions—
more than faint palimpsests. One one of three horizontal paintings
ness of that pivotal year.
"visual pollution," in Marioni's
in
which
darker
margins,
a
layer
couldn't help feeling, however,
phrase—is critical. But visitors on
A blue wall lay beneath a
that a bit too much theoretical heft or two beneath the final "skin,"
representation of white, mushwas being lowered onto these
room-shaped towers. Like all the feathenweight forms. Do they realThree of Joseph Marioni's paintings, ail 2006, acryiic on iinen; at Peter Bium.
images here, these were renly, as the press release suggests,
dered with sweeping marks that
"recall the confrontational moment
suggested rotational movement.
at which the austere ModernThe towers were titled Reflection ist aesthetic simultaneously
of a Future Past, a phrase poeti- embraced the political and racial
cally evoking their source in the
intolerance of preceding decades
once-futunstic towers of the 1964 and marked the burgeoning era
World's Fair New York Pavilion,
of reaction and revolution"?
designed by Philip Johnson,
which still stands on its original
More than social revolution or
site in Flushing Meadow Park in
retrenchment, these ephemeral
Queens. The title gave them poi- drawings brought to mind an
gnancy, recalling a moment when array of art-historical precedents,
these Utopian relics were new.
from Beuys's blackboards to
Rauschenberg's erased de KoonThe nearby green wall contained In the Blink of an Eye, with ing drawing. The chandeliers,
meanwhile, join a host of recent
equally kinetic but less distinctive rectangular structures based and not-so-recent fixtures in
works by artists ranging from
on Johnson's Glass House.
Ross Bleckner and Rodney GraThe final drawing, which took
188 October2006
Selected from what appears to
be an ongoing series depicting
swimmers in generic, photogenic
moments, two paintings dated
2006 show figures in endless
expanses of water. The 58-by126-inch Frieze depicts men and
women at play in impossibly blue
water, an abundant froth rushing onto some unseen shore.
Closer in, the 57-by-87-inch The
Wave locates four young women
standing in shallow water as
they turn away into the middle
distance where a rolling wave
forms, anticipating the possibility
of a pictorial resolution of figures wholly subsumed.
these adventurous pursuits.
The 40 pages of the somewhat larger Nightfall include
images drawn in black ballpoint
as well as text, and feature the
silhouette of a trophy home—an
emblem of the introduction of the
vernacular to a coastal scrub of
chaparral. Above is a full moon
and a night sky that is a field of
obsessive markings, with named
stars like white holes burning
in the darkness. Bound in rugged nylon, the 20 pages in the
126-by-56-by-33-inch work titled
Field Charts for Seleoted Boulder Problems rest on a collapsible chart table reminiscent of
campaign furnishings designed
—Edward Leffingweil
for use in the field. The pages
feature large drawings of boulPeter Rostovsky: Landscape for Another (1), 2006, oil on linen, 42 by 56 inches;
Russell Crotty
ders to be scaled, interspersed
at The Project.
with vellum overlays of routes
atCRG
marked in color, each positing
In the tradition of the livre
solutions to the ascent problem.
a dark day were out of luck. (In
ungainly posture associated with
d'artiste, Russell Crotty obsesfajrness, I should note that Marjdigital cameras—arms extended, sively annotates hand-drawn field The paths of greatest difficulty are
drawn in red. Such drawings
oni offered to turn on the lights
the screen viewed at a distance.
books and charts useful for scalare annotated with observations
for me. I declined, and returned
Here, Rostovsky represents the
ing boulders and tracking celestial concerning tests of endurance,
when the weather improved.)
eclipse of the traditions of both
phenomena. (The objects shown
including "good problem at the
Though these paintings are
landscape painting and landscape were dated 2006.) Relatively
lower camp ground—a freaky
not properly monochrome (nor
photography—the countdown at
small in the context of this exhibi- downclimb." Turned here by
polychrome: Barbara Rose's
the end of the Kodak moment.
tion,
Crotty's linen-bound, ink and white-gloved gallery assistants,
"plurichrome" hits home), they
Several paintings from his cycle watercolor on paper Twtiight in
the pages can also be rolled up
dispense, as do monochrome
of "blind" landscapes recall the
the West opens to a span of 14'/2 in purpose-built carrying tubes.
paintings, with figure/ground
atmosphere of mid-19th-century
by
31
inches
on
a
shelf
designed
The roughly 68-by-124-by-68relationships. But whereas in
American painting and seem to
for its presentation. Regarding
inch apparatus of Field Charts
monochrome (and other manifes- commemorate it with a record of
himself as an observer midway
for Nocturnal Recreations was
tations of the "abstract sublime")
its vanishing: the landscapes of
between earth and sky. Crotty
designed for the transport, storthe picture plane is read as all
this series fade into grisaille, as
prints in unaffected capital letters: age and display of 10 expansive
ground and no figure, these, in
rivers, mountains and skylines are "Winter Joshua Tree. Cold north
drawings focusing on named and
their relentless edge-to-edge
softened to a point near obliterawind howls out of the mountains.
numbered stars, each paired with
forward pressure, come at you
tion. Three 18-by-24-inch, oil-onSirius the brightest star rises
a related vellum overlay. The
all at once: all figure. They comlinen "Blind Landscapes" reveal
above the huge boulder formaassistants offered each sheet in
mandeer the neutral white wall
mountainous terrain from different tions." Crotty writes of both the
as ground. A cradle that locates
perspectives, the first focusing on boulder and the night sky. a nota- turn, lifting it carefully over a roll
that cradled the pages previously
eaoh canvas a few inches fora horizon defined by trees in the
tion that introduces his interest
viewed. Here were galactic clusward of the wall heightens this
middle distance, the second on
in bouldering, a relatively safe,
ters, numbered stars, the Milky
effect. And the work's resulta view from a ridge overlooking
problem-solving sport useful as
Way writ large, followed by a
ing deference to the gallery's
a river, the third on mountains
high-jmpact
training
for
climbshort list of its spiral arms, familarchitecture, even more than its
receding into the distance.
ers. He leads the viewer on an
iar Orion. Cygnus and Perseus.
humorlessness, is its greatest
expedition into sites ideal for
Rostovsky's 42-by-56-inoh
liability.
—Stephen Maine
Landscape for Another (1) and
(2), both 2006, iterate paintings
Russeil Crotty: Field Charts for Nocturnal Recreations, 2006. ink and watercolor
of the Hudson River Valley as
Peter Rostovsky
on paper and vellum, bound in nylon, on table, 68 by 124 by 67'A inches; at CRG.
though the paintings had been
at The Project
mounted on a wall and photoOver the past five years or so,
graphed at an oblique angle.
Peter Rostovsky has produced
The first limns an expanse of still
"Epiphanies," an ironic, narrawater from a rock-strewn cove
tive-oriented series of works
in the foreground to a forest
consisting of small, sculpted
reflected in the water in the dispolymer-clay figures on pedestance as the painting itself seems
tals facing wall-hung landscape
to recede. In the second, a wide
paintings. In this recent exhibition, river is seen from far above, a
he included a single example,
herbaceous border in the foreEpiphany Model: The Photogra- ground along the base of the
pher (2006), whose eponymous,
picture plane. Down below in
freestanding subject is dwarfed by the darkness is an interrupted
a luminous oil-on-linen, 88-by-42- line of minute incidents painted
inch landscape depicting bands
in reddish yellow—an offhand,
of mountains receding in the
photorealist representation of
distance. The 6-inch-tall Sculpey
what may be the lights of houses
figure holds his camera in the
or passing cars.

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