New York

“Drawings in Series”

East Hampton Gallery

At the East Hampton Gallery, a refreshingly varied selection of “Drawings in Series” by seven accomplished draftsmen will be shown this month. The group features Isaac Abrams’s and A. Sklar-Weinstein’s “visionary” and more subjective interior “landscapes”; Lenore Laine’s optical patterns; Nelson Howe’s densely textured studies, along with Sonia Gechtoft’s and T. G. Haupt’s energetic, yet orderly abstractions. They are all of consistent quality, and there is no amateurish note in this show.

A certain ingenuous awkwardness in Sacha Kolin’s white pastel silhouettes is balanced by the gentle precision of her lines. These are simple, but pleasing studies, which shy away from arabesques or decorative fussiness. Miss Kolin’s is a conservative sensibility, especially when seen beside Nelson Howe’s compact patchwork of patterned areas, which display this artist’s involvement with discrete compositional arrangements and gradations of tint, tonality, and texture. The richness and variety of its surface effects almost give this pen and ink group the impression of etched intaglio, but several examples lacked sufficient “breathing space,” for all their firm tactile concentration and interest.

T. G. Haupt’s striped and painstakingly modeled convolutions, which aim to “shape the surface” of the drawings were the least exciting and perhaps the most academic of the works on exhibit, while Lenore Laine’s more interesting optical patterns, stark black on white, dealt with the irregularities and interchangeability in the arrangement of symmetrical forms.

Sonia Gechtoff’s penciled, windswept panels were subtly varied in tone and shaping. An almost soft, uneven lighting in contrast to the uniformity of texture and the characteristic flamelike forms which flicker throughout all the compositions, relieves what might be an otherwise boring, or perhaps repetitive set.

The most inventive pen and ink drawings were those of Isaac Abrams and A. Sklar-Weinstein. Although they are not without some graphic precedent—the elegance and flourish of their work calls to mind the era of Aubrey Beardsley, Edmund Dulac, and Harry Clark—neither artist aims to illustrate, per se, anything beyond his own subjective visions. Fortunately, they both favor the best abstract features used by the turn-of-the-century draftsmen—organic arabesques, a jewel-like preciousness of detail, and a fine clear balance of black and white design—avoiding the specifically erotic content of Beardsley, or the nightmarish quirks found in Clark’s pictures. The best of Abrams’s small, delicately wrought organic and foliate patterns in the series, have a lightness of hand and a careful, yet bold surety. These fantastic linear networks, with their veiled suggestions of floating eyes or animal hybrids and undersea growth have psychedelic overtones, but this does not detract from their purely graphic quality and accomplishment.

Sklar-Weinstein’s group of germinating “interior landscapes” and recent figurative studies are at times more heavy-handed than Abrams’s, but this effect derives from her use of more concentrated black areas, especially in the dense webs and waving pendant forms of the 1965 sequence. The works from 1966 appeared to be the finest and most versatile, with drawings such as Inside a Seed or Eye of Heaven exhibiting a greater compositional and linear mastery, liberating the pictorial space from the shadowed intricacy of the former year. Stylized figures, less successful in arrangement than previous works, although equally bold in design and execution, rounded off this group on a slightly disappointing note. One felt that Sklar-Weinstein had momentarily given in to her less interesting illustrational tendencies. Hopefully, she has not abandoned her interest in the more visionary “inscapes” developed in her 1966 series.

Emily Wasserman