Critics’ Picks

View of “Ron Gorchov,” 2012.

View of “Ron Gorchov,” 2012.

New York

Ron Gorchov

Cheim & Read | Upper East Side
23 E 67th St
March 29–April 28, 2012

Bowed like shields or saddles, Ron Gorchov’s canvases arrest the eye as much for the anomaly of their format as the forms they host. In every instance, the curved canvases house at their center a pair of long, rounded shapes, set off against a white, cream, or pinkish field. Some elongated and others stout, these couples conjure up everything from footprints, to beans, to microorganisms suspended in some fluid, though their flatness resists any hint of corpulence. The streaked, watery blue surface of Noli Me Tangere, 2011, recalls the staining techniques of Morris Louis, or perhaps even the late painting of Arshile Gorky, an abiding influence upon Gorchov. To be sure, the latter’s work remains more conservative in its organic allusions. The paired, vaguely biomorphic forms at the center of these paintings remain within discreet, linear boundaries. Even the consistently literary titles of Gorchov’s works—Chase Street Lounge, 2011, Artemesia, 2011, and Adonis (Spring), 2012—belie their tight-lipped, cautious distillations.

Dissimilar in size and shape, the paired red-and-dark-blue shapes in La Piva, 2012, are more striking than their white surface, and generate a formal dialogue reminiscent of Kasimir Malevich’s spare, Black Square and Red Square, 1915. By contrast, Thersites (Chastened), 2012, makes the coarse, painterly surface and concave support striking elements in their own right. If they borrow something from sculpture, Gorchov’s canvases tend to conjure optical—rather than physical—phenomena, textures, and effects (that resistance to tactility is perhaps slyly evoked in the title, Noli Me Tangere). Two exceptions here are Pegasi and Tau Seti (both 2012), each comprised of six of Gorchov’s concave surfaces, mounted to the wall such that each one overlaps the one above it, as if a row of dominos had fallen skyward. The individual canvases, alternating in color, reveal thin borders of unpainted linen at their tops (and, in the bottom-most canvas, at its base). Each of these two pieces demands attention to its parts as much as to the scalloped whole. These works point further to Gorchov’s sensitivity to painting as an object in space—one that nevertheless insists upon its status as a flattened surface, even when it curves and juts away from the wall.