Critics’ Picks

Markus Bacher, “Vagabond”, 2015, acrylic and oil on linen and canvas, 71 x 103".


Markus Bacher

Contemporary Fine Arts Galerie (CFA)
Grolmanstrasse 32/33
January 15–March 5

Markus Bacher’s latest exhibition consists of five large-scale multipaneled paintings. The most successful of these is the triptych “Vagabond” (all works 2015), with a reduced palette of mainly black and white. In the center, an Edvard Munchian splatter-smear of a figure frowns haltingly against a background blur—the smoke of a hostile crowd? It would fit the painting’s overall heavy existential burden. The other two panels are abstract, as they tend to be chez Bacher; the larger one on the left is a white powdery peach with a grimace of yellow and two black stripes on the bottom while the smaller right-hand panel is a haze of black-green.

Elsewhere, “Stars ’n Stripes in the Mohave”, 2015, allows an avalanche of blues and browns and reds to predominate in the central panel. The right panel breaks the flow completely, leaving the canvas blank save for the sporadic application of multicolored dab-dots. The left panel has been painted white with just a tiny smudge of color, as if to suggest a scream from the central panel breaking through the light.

There seems to be an emerging army of young painters engaged in abstract figuration, and while these paintings might not show the imaginative pizzazz of, say, a Winston Chmielinski, Bacher’s serious engagement with the tradition of muddlement can’t be discounted.