New York

Mark Feldstein

Mark Feldstein’s one man exhibition at the Tibor de Nagy was the first he has had in New York. By any standard it was a good show but I was bothered by an aura of inconsequentiality that the paintings could not seem to overcome. The paintings propose a remote, neutral flatness which is given a precise measure of life by the white lines (actually the white of the sized canvas) which divide up the surfaces into a succession of geometric partitions. In almost all cases Feldstein uses a uniform pastel hue for the ground and the effect of the lines is that they are at once integrally a part of the surface but can also be read as tracing schematically the outlines of partially completed three dimensional forms. Feldstein has, I feel, learned a lot from Darby Bannard’s paintings—specifically from the extraordinarily measured control of flat surfaces that Bannard’s work exhibits at all times. With Bannard’s paintings one is not only subliminally aware of the literal flatness of surface with its variations of matte and gloss textures but simultaneously of a kind of thin, opaque color space, a color-space which Bannard somehow contrives to keep constant, while modifying the feeling of each segment of differing hue through cool, warm, sharp, bland and so on. To my eye, the one painting in Feldstein’s exhibition which was the most interesting but also, within the terms of his paintings, the least successful, aligned itself fairly explicitly with Bannard’s paintings. This was TMR; it differed from the others in that the lines, running horizontally, dipped to give a minimal illusion of a kind of creased flatness. This in turn was negated by a single wedge of pale green running from the right side, which merged, without linear separation, with the pastel blue ground. The continuousness of the green wedge with the blue ground emphasized the overall visible flatness of the surface, so that the denting of this flatness that the lines schematically implied, gave a slightly uncomfortable warping to the picture and made the whole seem rather arbitrary. The discomfort was minimal, however, just as the visual activity of the more self-consistent paintings in the show was minimally pleasing. I was left with the feeling that these were interesting paintings but that Feldstein had perhaps settled for a kind of resolution that was, in the context of his obvious ability, too facile.

Jane Harrison Cone