New York

John Griefen

Kornblee Gallery

In John Griefen’s first New York exhibition, at Kornblee Gallery, one is faced with a pastiche of New York color-field painting which wavers between imitations of Jules Olitskl’s narrow, vertical sprayed pictures and the kind of work Larry Poons was doing last year, in which the painting was divided into an expanse of dark, matte stain juxtaposed to more painterly areas of higher gloss. Griefen’s work is strongest and most personal when he treats the areas of stained color as though they had been wiped onto the surface, making the washes of color seem suspended above rather than absorbed into the fabric of the canvas. The strongest painting in the show seemed to me to be a six by ten foot canvas of a mottled grey-blue stain which was banded horizontally at three points by rivulets of soft grey. Because of their handling these bands appeared as shadows cast onto the surface of the work from something in the viewer’s own space. The effect of these bands was to promote a reading of the picture as a series of superimpositions beginning somewhere well in front of the actual surface plane, thereby subverting the atmospheric quality of its color. But it is hard to tell what Griefen means by a work like this, for it appears within the context of a show which is faltering and weakly imitative.

Rosalind Krauss