Barry Schwabsky

  • Michael van Ofen

    It took only a glance at Michael van Ofen’s first exhibition in the U. S. to peg him as one of Gerhard Richter’s former pupils. What identified van Ofen as such wasn’t simply his evident concern with the relation between painting and photography, the slippage between abstraction and representation. More important is the way such essentially formal concerns can be seen as a means of registering the weight of history through reticence and distance, through an “objective,” methodical approach that might just as easily have fallen into solipsism. The paintings in this show (all works untitled, 1992)

  • Lisa Yuskavage

    This exhibition included both paintings and watercolors. In each of the paintings, a seductive, candy-colored monochrome field is inhabited by a single figure, creating a kind of imaginary portrait of a young girl. It’s really the color that hits first: saturated, lurid, aggressively confectionary—cloying hues that speak of manipulation, of some terrible abstraction from reality, of what your mother told you never to take from strangers. The figures seem to be surfacing from somewhere inside the field while remaining very much within its atmosphere.

    Sometimes naked, sometimes partly clothed,

  • Anton Solomoukha

    Since 1991 the paintings of Anton Solomoukha, an artist born in Kiev but living in Paris, have been playing with imagery derived from a catalogue of mechanical toys printed in the ’20s. Not surprisingly, nostalgia and reverie are key elements of these pictures. Yet they are about everything but naiveté or innocence. In earlier paintings from the series, shown in a four-person exhibition at this gallery in 1991, the images from the catalogue—not always recognizable in the paintings as being of toys—were mixed with fragments of nude figures, or rather fragments of pictures of nudes, since, like

  • Pat Steir

    Pat Steir’s new paintings, exhibited under the Goethean title “Elective Affinities,” continue to rehearse the abstractly generated waterfall imagery that has preoccupied her for the last several years. As before, a vehement, loaded stroke at the top of the canvas allows thinned paint to drip down, evoking falling water, while below some flung splashes à la early Norman Bluhm represent the water’s upward splash. What’s new is that Steir has renounced the grisaille to which this series had been confined in favor of intense—not to say lurid—color. In one sense, however, Steir’s use of color remains

  • Matthew Weinstein

    Matthew Weinstein’s newest work underlines the curious fact that a young artist does not always develop most propitiously by becoming more “mature.” It is quite possible to progress by means of regression; art must be able to retreat, consciously, to unself-consciousness, however false. Weinstein’s giddy, sexual, sometimes psychedelic new paintings made me realize that his earlier work was trying too hard to be serious and consistent, to create a signature style that in and of itself would communicate some content with an inarguable claim to the viewer’s attention. Recent discussions of “content”

  • Mat Collishaw

    As far as can be told from these shores, the recent wave of young phenoms from Goldsmith’s College in London has consisted mostly of practitioners of a remote, formal, yet quirky abstraction that somehow turns out to derive from quotidian forms and materials: Angela Bulloch and her pulsing light fixtures; Gary Hume of the door paintings; Marcus Taylor with his frosty Plexiglas boxes based on appliance packaging; and Rachel Whiteread and her plaster casts of rooms. As his first American exhibition attests, Mat Collishaw is clearly up to something else.

    Called In The Old Fashioned Way, 1992, his

  • Brenda Zlamany

    Brenda Zlamany’s works depict the bodies and parts of bodies of slaughtered animals, of human cadavers, and, for the first time, quite living friends. Isolating each represented object in a dark, glassy, anonymous space that, in its reflectiveness suggests a mirror more than a window, her representational technique vaguely recalls that of certain 17th-century Dutch still-life painters who managed to combine austerity with opulence. Her forms emerge not only as delicately yet richly colored, but as highly tactile and quite material. This tactility is particularly effective in a portrait of Bill

  • Ellsworth Kelly

    Piet Mondrian painted flowers; Ellsworth Kelly draws plants—has done so regularly since the late ’40s. The selection of “Plant Drawings” in this show included works from 1960–69, and from 1980 to the present; apparently Kelly did fewer of these in the ’70s. There is little sense of development over time in these works, which only adds to their air of objectivity, to the feeling that they are exercises in something other than style. What draws “absolute” abstractionists to the botanical? When Kelly says, “I found an object and ‘presented’ it as itself alone. . . . It had to be exactly as it was,

  • Farrell Brickhouse

    Farrell Brickhouse is clearly unafraid to make a mess. In a statement about one of his paintings a few years ago, he spoke of a “need to dive into the muck to come up with my jewel of truth.” Somewhere along the line, Brickhouse’s brand of gritty yet lyrical gestural painting went out of fashion, probably because too many of its practitioners seemed to have convinced themselves that pushing paint around was enough. Brick-house clearly knows better. His impasto shows signs of both unaffected self-indulgence and genuine struggle, but usually he stops short of letting either one become an end in

  • Marilyn Lerner

    As many critics have noticed, Marilyn Lerner’s eccentrically shaped, hard-edged abstract paintings often seem like playful yet exacting conflations of Russian Constructivism and Suprematism, on the one hand, and South Asian art—particularly Tantric—on the other. It’s a rare synthesis—centrifugal dynamism from one source, contemplative metastasis from the other—but one that’s compellingly achieved in her best work.

    An inveterate traveler to Asia, as well as a long-standing admirer of its traditional arts, Lerner, in early 1991, became more actively involved with Asian art by studying Indian gouache

  • Jim Dine Drawings

    Constance W. Glenn, Jim Dine Drawings (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1985), 223 pages, 110 black and white illustrations, 52 color plates.

    Some artists challenge criticism because they seem so much in need of interpretation; Jim Dine, however, does so because he seems to render interpretation superfluous. It is difficult to see past the facility, permeability to influence, and beauty of Dine’s work. Perhaps that’s why the artist gets luscious reproductions but a lightweight introduction in this book.

    Too bad, because there is an interesting story buried here: that of a successful artist swerving

  • Archie’s Parlor

    Archie’s Parlor

    The park at Versailles has a little connection to God.

    (pick up: For I made it quite plain) For I made it quite


    about what and why I was calling.

    A landscape on the wall

    is a different way of thinking.

    That’s where our story begins: a colloquy

    among figures captivated by blue, punctuated

    by a sequence of touches like lipstick,

    like nail polish. They’re what you see

    with a sidelong glance, catching the light

    that obscures all the rest.

    The day

    is a zero-sum game. It has

    only twenty-four hours and

    is extremely unlikely

    to change overnight. The sun,

    moon and stars

    make an expensive