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Eric Diehl at Skylight Gallery

January 22, 2013

One of the things I always like is discovering an artist of whom I was unaware.

Skylight Gallery on West 29th Street has done just that. Their current show is a melange of existing artists and ones new to the gallery.

Eric Diehl’s drawings are the standouts. He is a young artist, having graduated from Pratt Institute in 2007, with exceptional technique and a delicate hand. His pen and ink drawings are finely rendered and exquisite. You expect them to stand up and walk away, even the places. I suspect the great drawing masters of the past (yes, even Leonardo) will welcome him to their ranks.

The show is up until late February. Skylight is at 538 W 29 Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. The gallery is open to the public on Saturday afternoons and by appointment weekdays.
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Eric Roux-Rontaine at Axelle Fine Art

November 15, 2012

Last Saturday evening, I walked into Axelle Fine Art and arrived in the land of my dreams.

Eric Roux-Fontaine channels the primeval world of the Meso-American jungle. You understand with every brush stroke that this is his world. If you’ve ever walked through dense tropical treelands, you know that vegetation grows in layers. Some trees are extremely tall with branches only at their tops, providing a canopy over the forest. Others are shorter and wider, surrounded by flowering bushes, filled with birds and butterflies. Now, add to this wonder world a touch of modern whimsy – a pristine white tent, or a tightrope walker, or a bridge going nowhere, or (my favorite) the swimming pool in the middle of a swamp. So perhaps what we really have is Alice in Wonderland in the Costa Rican jungle instead of the English countryside.

This is the world that Roux-Fontaine lives and breathes – even though he lives with his wife and children in Lyon, France. (I can attest to his wife’s being absolutely charming.)

Having seen the paintings on his web site, it’s clear that the whimsical touches are pervasive elements of his work, tying the concrete elemonts of our society to a purer, freer, uncontaminated one.

What is most interesting is the delicacy of Roux-Fontaine’s paintings. His paint is thinned, his brush work is fine, his colors are delicate. He lays layer after layer of branch, leaf and brush, building to a complex, dense composition. The influence of the Chinese scroll painters is huge; they would be proud.

This is Roux-Fontaine’s first exhibit in the US. He is an extremely talented painter with an exceptional body of work. You should take the opportunity to discover his work. Axell is located 472 West Broadway (just south of Houston Street); the show is on view thrugh Dec. 2.

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Going on hiatus

August 19, 2012

There isn’t time for these reviews just now so we’re going on hiatus. Please enjoy the archives.

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2012 Goxwa showing at Axelle Fine Art New York

June 19, 2012

Red Ribbon

Sunset
Red Ribbon

About to Fly

It’s a treat to hear that Goxwa is having a show.  In  her case, anticipation is inevitably surpassed by reality.

This year, Goxwa seems to have focused on story paintings emphasizing individuals. Each has a back story. Each is beautifully rendered although I will admit that the faces are far less differentiated than their clothing and surroundings.

I was disappointed that there were so few cityscapes, the most compelling work in Goxwa’s last show at Axelle.  The few exhibited are wonderfully atmospheric.  The most charming piece is simply a city pigeon, even to jaded New Yorkers.

But what makes Goxwa’s work so compelling isn’t her subject matter, it’s her technique with encaustic, the difficult to master wax and oil medium.

Encaustic has been going through another of its periodic resurgences in the last few years.  (See some of our other reviews.)  As I discuss this medium with artists using it, I find that Goxwa’s technique is simply put, different.

The most common method to using the medium is to pour hot wax, please something on it, possibly an object, possibly more wax then to heat it with a blow torch so that one the top layer fuses with the one below it.  The paintings may a 2 inch thick amalgam of colored or translucent wax as in some of JongWang Lee’s paintings or Maria O’Malley’s more delicate pseudo drawings.

As you examine the details of Goxwa’s paintings, you realize that she has taken the opposite approach. The wax is simply the matter into which her color is mixed.  Of course, she uses heat to melt the was so that it can be applied.  But – and it is a very different but – she heats her surface before applying the colored wax so that the base accepts the new strokes.  As a result, you see her brush and knife work in the same way that you would in an oil painting.

This is the most difficult way of working with the encaustic medium and the hallmark of the genius that is Goxwa.

Goxwa’s exhibition at Axelle Fine Art, 472 West Broadway (just doors south of Houston Street), NYC, runs through June 30.  It is a treat if you’re a fan of excellent work and a prerequisite if you’re working with encaustic.

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Martin Weinstein at Franklin Riehlman Fine Art

June 13, 2012

Lilies, 2 Evenings

Peonies 2 Mornings

Martin Weinstein spends a great deal of time at a wonderfully spacious home along the Hudson. We all know nothing about the house but a great deal about the vistas and the garden. These are the subjects of his current show, consisting of work from 2010-2011, and the majority being small flower portraits.

I’ve been having a hard time deciding who Martin is channeling. My first thought was any one of the 16th or 17th century Dutch painters with their overflowing vases of every type of flower. But then I saw a photo of Monet at Giverney and realized that the garden in context was an equally strong influence.

In prior shows, Weinstein’s roots as an abstractionist showed in his peeling layers, perspective switches and time lapse games, all of which led to fascinating, complex work.

For this show, Martin is playing it straight. The evolution of his work continues toward realism. He’s not giving us photo-realism but realism with impressionistic underpinnings. With Martin’s technique of layering sheets of acrylic to gain depth, the lower layers become diffused leaving the detail on the top layer to astound.

It is astonishing that someone trained as an abstract expressionist has such a delicate hand and unerring sense of color. You must see the work to comprehend the detail of including every stem, every petal, and every leaf while not losing a painting’s composition. Weinstein is both a painting and drawing master.

I dream of waking in the morning to one of Martin’s floral wonders. But which to choose – pink roses, flowering cherry trees, peonies?

And I think of Martin’s studio with dozens of paintings underway, waiting for the paint on one layer to dry so that he can work on the next, waiting for the flowers to bloom so that he can quickly capture them, or setting a painting aside until next year to complete because flowers are ephemeral.

Take advantage of this opportunity to see this Martin’s superb paintings which will be on view through June 30 at Franklin Riehlman Fine Art at 24 E 73 Street, Suite 4F, New York City.

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CAROL FLAITZ AT SKYLIGHT GALLERY

May 3, 2012

Fissure IV

Nanofalls

It’s late in the show but there’s still time to see Carol Flaitz’s recent work at Skylight Gallery on W 29 St.

I had an opportunity to talk to Carol about the origins of her work, her influences, and so forth. Let me say that I’m a big fan of her work and her attitude.

To distill this conversation into a single overriding concept, Carol’s work reflects the wonder of the universe and its exemplification through scientific concept into art.

Where did she come from? Strangely enough: ceramics. Why ceramics? Because a painting professor was insulting and derogatory, she switched to a different medium. I doubt that Carol was ever your everyday ceramicist, turning out pretty little pots and bowls. She made me laugh telling a story of how she burned down a kiln in Wales (her MFA is from the South Glamorgan Institute of Higher Learning in Cardiff) when she attempted a piece with porcelain, ceramic and stoneware clays. The kiln was a disaster but the piece was something of a success with molten areas where the clay simply flowed and other where the porcelain held it’s shape.

Carol’s paintings are all about science at the macroscopic and microscopic levels. She’s not terribly interested in the immediately visible. Working on wood (as opposed to canvas) she carves, drills and routs to create levels.

In some work, the Fissure series, she uses the mattest black possible, blocking all light and depth, to mirror the blackness of space and its perceptual infinity. You stare into these spaces and are drawn into them as much for the surrounding bands of color as for the utter blackness of their depths.

In other work, such as Nanofalls, she mixes acrylic paint and resin, giving us magnified nanosurfaces with the resin serving as the current flowing from point to point.

In yet other paintings, Carol has begun working with encaustic (see earlier article). Even in her encaustic work, Carol adds dimension to the wax, not by adding objects, but by building spot upon spot, layer upon layer of colored wax. Encaustic, as we all know, is a very difficult medium even when using the simplest pour, embed, melt techniques. When using it to create texture and surface, I cannot imagine the technical issues of spot surfacing.

I’m going to let you in on Carol’s next technical challenge: a painting which incorporates the black hole, acrylic, resin and encaustic. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to seeing it.

I believe that Carol is an immensely talented artist whose work will one day be in all the major museums. Meanwhile, do try to see Carol’s work at Skylight Gallery through May 5. If, by chance, you happen to be in Berlin on May 12, Carol’s work (along with Carla Goldberg’s) will be opening at the Kunstelben Berlin Gallery.

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ART DEALERS ASSOC. OF AMERICA at the Armory

April 24, 2012

Ori Gersht - Untitled-3

DC Moore Booth
Pace McGill Booth
Ori-Gersht—Untitled-3

Talk about confusing! The Armory show is at the pier and the AADA show is at the Armory. Why would the AADA want to run their own show at the same time as the Armory show? I can think of two reasons – the cost of participating in the Armory show and the seriousness of buyers. Since the Armory show was full of strollers and teens, not to mention busloads of gawping tourists, it must be enormously frustrating for gallery owners seeing the quality of the gate deteriorate. As an Association, they’re not generating profits for a third party so the decision to mount their own show is a logical conclusion and, I have to say, a very good one. During art show week, the AADA show was the first we went to and the high point of the week. AADA galleries are well established and the majority feature recognized (as opposed to emerging) artists. Timing this year’s show to compete with the Armory show and using their supposed venue was a brilliant decision. This year, there were a surprising number of Motherwell’s available for sale at a variety of galleries. I’m a Motherwell fan, but I was surprised at the volume – but it did make me think about the art forgery scandal which affected the credibility of the now defunct Knoedler Gallery (no blame attached to them as participants). Still, one of the benefits of these shows, if you’re not in the market for a piece of art, is educational. I think of myself as fairly knowledgeable but what I know may be deeper than it is broad, so I’m glad to say that I’ve become a fan of a few more artists and the galleries that represent them: DC Moore Gallery: representing Romare Barden (1911-1988), a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance, broadly accepted into the mainstream of American art for his oil and watercolor paintings and collages mixing abstract and realistic elements. Bearden’s earlier work is almost totally abstract. It was not until the 1960’s that he began including African American themes into his work and transitioned into collage for as his primary vehicle for expressing his thoughts. The gallery chose some of Bearden’s abstract works, individually powerful pieces, together an incredible experience. Pace McGill Gallery: representing Richard Misrach (1949- ). a contemporary photographer whose work ranges from realistic to abstract. Misrach’s work is considered both award-winning and ground-breaking, being one of the earliest to adopt very large scale formats, color enhancement technology and new print media. For this show, the gallery selected Misrach’s cloud studies as focal pieces, highlighting his artistry and skill in both B&W and color, not to mention his close attention to cropping. CRG Gallery: representing Ori Gersht (1967- ), an Israeli photographer, who trained and lives in London. Gersht’s work in wide-ranging, including sublime nature studies, deeply insightful portraits, and exploding still lifes. The gallery focused this exhibition on the blasted floral. Gersht flash freezes his subject in liquid nitrogen to preserve their form and color, also to create a hard object to destroy with a bullet. Gersht’s work shows the results of the destructive instinct, whether directed at objects or people. In some ways, it’s a pity that it’s so beautiful, but that’s a matter for philosophy.

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