New York

Adja Yunkers and Leo Manso

Rose Fried

Adja Yunkers’ Aegean Series collage paintings at the Rose Fried Gallery are spare yet lyrical and sensuous without being self indulgently so. In them Yunkers displays a taste and lucidity which is admirable for its lack of pretension and for its resourcefulness within deliberately narrow confines. In only a very few of the works does one have the sense that the compositions are worked out in a manner that strikes one as too set or contrived. In most of the paintings precisely cut out but freely formed pieces of white canvas are applied onto grounds which may be a slightly different shade of white from these large swatches. The jutting, looming, or expanding shapes which are formed suggest bays, coastlines, horizons, or rivers, and the torn edged streaks of ultramarine or cobalt blue which are shot through the pictures add to this impression of beach or water. The careful articulation of whites, which have a dry yet fulminating light, makes demands on the eye which are slow but insistent. The paintings are not as reticent as they seem on first viewing. Several small lithographs echoing the designs of the paintings are especially appealing, and the transfer from one medium. and scale to another does not lessen the effectiveness of Yunkers’ conception. Both paintings and prints have a resonance that is quiet but forceful. Typical of this spare elegance is one painting in which a billowing white breast like shape (attached to the canvas) overlaps channels of the same white painted onto the ground; both areas melt into a pale rosy white river ambling from top to bottom of the field. The eye must constantly seek for the places where the edges of cut out or painted shapes are defined, or where they simply blend imperceptibly into each other.

Like Yunkers, Leo Manso, whose show followed at the Fried Gallery, works in a vaguely landscape like collage and painting medium. His art differs in its distinctly oriental overtones, and in the precious delicacy which he elicits from pale dyed gauzes and linens combined with watery acrylic washes and bits of inlaid string or charred rice papers. Many of his small collages remind one of Chinese scroll work in their juxtaposition of varied materials, and the paintings openly, though artfully, refer to the ritualistic patternings of Indian Tantric art. In the small works Manso plays filmy horizons of aqua greys or dusky magentas against torn strips or curves of string and glued paper. Mottled browns and peachy pinks complete the spectrum. In Om or Magic Mountain, two of these smaller works, Manso evokes a dreamy aura of landscape, with layerings of apple green, rich orange sun arcs, and hazes of still specific matter. Yet in neither of them does he become entirely scenic. In the same sense Tantra, the largest canvas, employs symbol forms without their being overtly or obtrusively symbolic. A floral burst of hand prints, decoratively tipped with bright circles of color, sits above a radiant orb and amid other patterns typical of ritualistic art (repeated bars and rhythmic dottings).

Both Yunkers and Manso, working along entirely independent lines, share a fine sense of their craft and a sensibility geared toward subtle modulations of materials and tonalities. One is not hesitant to acknowledge the charm—in a most favorable sense—of such works.

Emily Wasserman