New York

Lee Lozano

Bianchini Gallery

Lee Lozano’s group of five big paintings at the Bianchini Gallery provides an opportunity to see, in a well-developed form, some recent ramifications of a broad current in American art today, that of commitment to a reductive, abstract mode of expression which nonetheless permits a very rich kind of pictorial experience. In Miss Lozano’s work there is not the usual situation of preposterous inflation of modest formal ideas for the sake of a kind of absurd rhetoric, but a genuine and polished ability to compress, within a deliberately restricted range of forms, a ferment of energetic perception. Only within such limitations can her active and varied pictorial sensibility gain rhythmic vitality and comprehensible structure.

Miss Lozano’s imagery in this show is geometric, in a way, sticking largely to forms that appear to be huge sections of conical reliefs, or pieces of tubular curves. Sometimes these forms correspond to actual divisions of the painting into a number of separate canvases; though the whole of each work is rectangular, it may be made up of a number of rhomboids, rather in the manner of those frustrating puzzles in Scientific American, or like some psychological test figures. Each painted form, straight or curved, and whether it corresponds to a physical unit of the whole or not, has been brushed in parallel strokes while the pigment is tacky, so that its surface is a texture of aligned directional ridges. This cultivation of matiere is designed to work with variations of tone and hue, modeling the forms. The elements which the artist adjusts on the grand scale she has chosen are, then, the rhythmic articulation of the painted forms, the apparent effect of relief, the visible physical divisions of the total work, and of course the color.

The colors are difficult to particularize not only because they are complex mixes, but because the finely ridged surfaces reflect and diffuse the light in a complicated fashion as well. Intensities and hues shift and change as the viewer himself changes position. Generally, however, the colors are heavy without being leaden; russets and beige in Lean, blue, grey-green, and yellow in Crook, and red, orange, and brown in Jut.

Miss Lozano is to be congratulated in the unity and strength of her show. She has managed this by proceeding from her formidable abilities in vigorous composition, understanding of scale, and clear, apt technique. She does not rely on the formulae of so much reductive abstract art in all media, formulae which have led to an entire esthetic of vast and dulling boredom. Miss Lozano has a vitality in her work that comes only from the constant exercise of perceptions unhindered by crippling a priori concepts.

––Dennis Adrian