New York

Frank Roth

Martha Jackson Gallery

Frank Roth used to paint volumetric automobile-part shapes in oddly jutting perspectives. Although his newer paintings are also concerned with such spatial effects, they are of a more abstract and more delicate nature. The basic idea of these paintings is to create a subtle impression of receding, corridor-like spaces which are realized by geometrically subdividing the field and surrounding some of the units with soft halations of color. The divisions suggest the orthagonal projections of perspective diagrams, but they lead from the corners of a field (sometimes rhomboidal, sometimes square or rectangular in format) inward toward a smaller, centralized door-like square or rectangle which is the focus of the receding space. In one picture, The Stutterer, two such centers are ranged on either side of a dark grey and black field, so that one space may seem to advance slightly while its pair may recede. Occasionally these internal units are placed off-center, evoking a more disjunctive sense of space. However, no particular adjustment in color value or emphasis is made to compensate for this shift of focus, which may account for the failure of these experiments to my eye.

There is something essentially dilettantish about the work, although the pictures are competently painted. Roth has hit upon a pattern which he can vary slightly in the guise of serial solutions, but he only shifts his combinations of color felicitously to achieve the look of progression. He seems to have given up the more difficult peculiarity of his earlier work for a rather shallow and decoratively pleasing production which falls short of the risk or originality of his previous paintings.

––Emily Wasserman