Critics’ Picks

Ron Gorchov, Nausicaä, 2016, oil on linen, 98 x 78 x 13".

Ron Gorchov, Nausicaä, 2016, oil on linen, 98 x 78 x 13".

New York

Ron Gorchov

Cheim & Read | Upper East Side
23 E 67th St
February 16–March 25, 2017

There is much evidence of classicism in reductive art practices. Rarer, however, is the presence of the more willful and subjective impulses of neoclassicism, in which classical order is not adhered to but depicted. Ron Gorchov’s signature shield-shaped paintings would not be out of place gripped by a dying marble warrior. Gorchov’s canvas, featuring a rounded edge and a concavity in the center, is not an optical illusion or a sculptural push into space—it is an image open to interpretation. The fact that these paintings encourage symbolic viewing sets them apart from much contemporaneous abstraction.

Two mysterious and evocative curvilinear forms often appear in the centers of Gorchov’s paintings. They are reminiscent of the symmetrical scrolls on string instruments, the sexy dimples on the lower backs of many humans, or inchworms wiggling together on invisible strings. These forms are companions, never in conflict. It is significant that Gorchov gives us the back of the shield, the defensive rather than the aggressive side—the side that contains and protects the life within. These idiosyncratic paintings are loaded with intent, and what is so human about them is the mystery of the intent. The intensity of our own actions hardly explains them to others. This gap allows us to imagine each other. And one spends much time in front of these paintings imagining what they are.

The work is deeply sensual. In Nausicaä, 2016, washes of baby blue seem to sweat down and around a yellow and a cobalt form. The raw edges, the isolated and wiggling central forms, and the sheer physicality of these pieces makes them beautiful in the classical sense of the term.