New York

John Griefen

Kornblee Gallery

John Griefen’s show at Kornblee is another exercise in frustration, but for different reasons. Griefen doesn’t start with strong art and then weaken it. Instead, he pours and splashes and hopes that, with considerable cropping, his unprogrammatic outpouring of inspiration in faintly mawkish acrylic will result in strong paintings. It does not. The canvases are murky and unresolved, leaving a viewer with no memory of image or atmosphere—except possibly the rather nice effect of several blank spots on the paintings where paint did not fall. They flicker like holes into the muddy pigment or bright flashes on top of it. The reason these works are frustrating is they lend fuel to the argument that loosely worked acrylic can almost never produce eloquent paintings with real visual sustenance. It is possible to do it, but only if an artist makes a knowing effort to guide the look of what is happening on his canvas.

Kasha Linville