New York

Richard Tum Suden

Richard Tum Suden’s work at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery is a sprightly multitude of small panels of identical size, set together in six or eight large rectangular units. Each square panel (about 11'' x 11'') has a bright, wiggly biomorphic abstraction on a white ground; set in rows in the larger units, they are too numerous to be read as separate pictorial entities, and too active formally for the larger overall articulation to be seen as of a piece. In this way, they make up a truly novel format, perhaps closer to an enlarged section of a tidily set mosaic than anything else. Coloristically, the lively primaries against the white grounds suggest, for just an instant, that one is looking at a ceramic tile composition by Matisse that has been installed in the wrong order.

The forms themselves are organic abstractions, perhaps owing a fair amount to certain intricate Mirós, or maybe Ernst. They have a definite suggestion of “anatomies,” but the structures have a neither-fish-nor-fowl character, like that of tiny marine organisms of the sort visible only under the microscope. Ciliated sausage forms, contracting spots, randomly winding tentacular dribbles, and bloopy anamorphs all enhance these micro-organic potential identities.

There is in the show a nice standoff between the decorative implications of the novel format and the particulate intricacy and variety of the images. The balance is neatly struck, and so good natured that all pretentiousness is avoided. While perhaps it is not possible to elevate Tum Suden’s productions to High Painterly Seriousness, nothing could be clearer than that he does not wish us to. His profuse inventiveness and the deft articulations of his unnameable critters are unmistakable hallmarks of artistic sensibility at work.

Dennis Adrian