Critics’ Picks

A New Dawn, 2019, acrylic, glass, and laquer on wood, 60 x 48".

A New Dawn, 2019, acrylic, glass, and laquer on wood, 60 x 48".


Julio Rondo

Galerie Andreas Binder
Knöbelstrasse 27
November 8, 2019–February 1, 2020

In case Josef Albers’ 1963 manual Interaction of Color didn’t sufficiently spell out its primary lesson—that colors exist only as relations to each other—the Spanish-born, Germany-based artist Julio Rondo has made things explicit. Through this presentation of glass paintings, a medium he has utilized since the 1980s, Rondo puts the very tectonics of stroke and chroma on display. The artist has constructed each work by enclosing a painted wood surface in a glass case, its own reverse side already treated with acrylic. In All The Way (all works cited 2019), for example, a background eggshell blue on the wooden support peeks through more insistent coatings of red and orange on the glass; to the left, dark blue a cheery turquoise. If early modern painting alighted upon repoussoir as a perspectival stratagem, Rondo pulls the curtain back all the way to apodicticity. Each stroke and layer is so deliberate that when viewed as a grouping, the works turn from the didactic toward the pedantic in a nearly ludic chorus of overly composed abstractions.

In reproduction, these paintings might seem to comprise layered strokes of paint, but when viewed in situ, the glass and its reflective sheen betray these objects’ sculptural origins. The fate of Judd’s specific object is not far away: following Rosalind Krauss’s observation that the very play of light sabotages Minimalism’s claim to self-sufficiency, Rondo, in playing off the textures between wood and glass, saves these works from becoming self-serious demonstrations. Acrylic snags on surfaces differently; physical inconsistencies catch the eye. Rondo frequently skews strokes to offset any insistent rectilinearity, although the more organic shapes in pieces like Neighborhood diminish his slick balancing act. After all, reverse glass-painting was no rationalized invention of postwar abstraction. In their revival of the technique, Munich’s own Blaue Reiter group understood it as a prelapsarian Bavarian folk practice, opposed to modernity’s severe instruction.