Los Angeles

Jack Sonenberg

Feingarten Galleries

As a New York artist, Jack Sonenberg is probably more widely known for his woodcuts, yet his graphic work has always been related to his efforts as a painter. In both his drawings and paintings seen at the Feingarten Galleries there is an extremely fine sensitivity to surface textures. In the oils the color is keyed very low, achieving almost a dull metallic tonality in which bits of red, blue, yellow or green are all the richer because of their restraint. In “Sounding I” the subtle variations of ground are broken only by the hint of a calligraphic form that appears in a slightly raised surface. In “Oasis I,” “Oasis II” and in “White Matrix” there is a strong central form of rectangular nature that dominates the space. This “intrinsic image” as the artist is wont to call it, derives a kind of metaphorical content from the illuminating use of a warm white, never without color in it, intense in degree but in exquisite taste. It is, in particular, the nature of refinement found in Sonenberg’s work that separates it from much of the abstract expressionism in America today. In his drawings however, Sonenberg has a tendency to become “chic,” almost too dexterous in his combination of the accidental qualities of torn paper with the precision of graphite rubbings from woodcuts. The reference to anything outside of their own existence is lost, limiting the works to what they are physically: white paper fragments whose torn edges contrast with a black paper ground, and modulated passages of subtle graphite textures.

Constance Perkins