New York

Robert Mangold

Fischbach Gallery

Moving away from the subtle color modulated bending surfaces of his earlier chasuble shaped panels, at the Fischbach Gallery Robert Mangold showed a series of scored masonite works in flat colors which shift his concerns towards a more puritan and literal approach to the shaping of his paintings. Mangold now prefers to create the sense of a flat surface being spatially warped by means of carefully worked out diagonal and vertical incisions which form subdivided triangle and parallelogram shapes within the ochre, khaki green or greyed-blue fields. Vectors, X’s, and pie-slice areas section these asymmetrically contoured panels whose uncompromisingly bland coloration does nothing to enhance the activating role which the linear dividing elements aim to establish.

A wall covered with small models for the larger current works revealed Mangold’s systematic exploration of half circle curving areas abutted with triangle sectors or parallelograms. The greyed-blue series seemed to be the more adventuresome, with its scored divisions more arbitrary to the containing forms, and more unexpectedly off-axis in the context of the rigid geometric framework. Continually varying the same components, Mangold works to codify almost all of the possible internal configurations he can form with the basic vocabulary of X, V, or W markings. Relationships between each unit in the series become apparent only when viewing the whole wall of models, (since only parts of the three series were exhibited on large scale), but the energy obtained from this collective grouping seemed to me sadly lacking in most of the single full-sized works, whose interior activation does not always manage to override their generally dry conceptuality.

Emily Wasserman