Critics’ Picks

View of “Ron Gorchov: at the cusp of the 80s, paintings 1979–1983,” 2019.

View of “Ron Gorchov: at the cusp of the 80s, paintings 1979–1983,” 2019.

New York

Ron Gorchov

Cheim & Read
23 E 67th St
September 26–November 15, 2019

In 1966, Ron Gorchov decided to ditch the woefully rectilinear confines of painting’s traditional support in favor of something more curvaceous. A year later he came upon the ideal form, one that would become his signature—the “saddle.” Geometrically speaking, these saddles are hyperbolic paraboloids, a kind of conoid used frequently in architecture for its stability or, alternatively, in the design of Pringles potato chips for their stackability. (Coincidentally, this quintessential American snack food hit shelves the same year Gorchov began working with this unique structure. The mind wanders. . .)

The eight paintings on view in the inaugural exhibition of this gallery’s Upper East Side space were made more than a decade into Gorchov’s exploration of shaped canvases. The earliest example in the show, Mosque, 1979, depicts a pair of violet-brown figures floating within a mint-green ground. Because of the painting’s irregular contours, the distance between the two forms appears to change depending on where you are standing in relation to the picture plane. Gorchov exploits the saddle’s distinct topology to maximum formal effect, turning the exhibition into an endlessly rewarding game of peekaboo.

I danced with Metallurgy, 1982, for a hot minute, first approaching it from the left in order to gaze at its profile, a narrow expanse suffused with a powdery blue. But then as I slowly moved toward the right, a flash of cadmium yellow would rise from a vertical horizon line—then set once more, like a golden sun, when I went left. Do this a few times, and you may start to feel like a god. Just try not to bump into anything.