New York

Sharon Brandt

O.K. Harris

Sharon Brandt’s canvases at O.K. Harris are demanding and complex works as well. For Brandt, in contrast to Joan Synder, less is more.These are sparse paintings in terms These are sparse paintings in terms terms of impact, because their surface has been mobilized so effectively with minimal means. The artist works with the premise of an exquisite, almost colorless texture created by using a polyester resin to stain the canvas. She then strives to toughen the atmospheric image by the incorporation of a few lines, placed as compositional organizers on or under the translucent resin.

Line and surface aren’t always tuned to each other. When line is too aggressive, too explicitly the drawing of a shape, it splits off from its surface and doesn’t interact. Instead it overshadows the delicate, caring beauty of her soft tracings—achieved by rubbing dirt and dust and sometimes dry or sprayed pigment into the surface of the canvas. She is moving more and more toward the use of organic materials in her works. One canvas seen in her studio was done with a basin of dirty water melted from a New York snowstorm. It evokes ancient Japanese landscape. At their best, her paintings have an organicness, a quality accentuated when the canvases are hung unstretched, as she works on them. (All the works in the show are stretched, unfortunately.) Then the canvas cloth comes forward powerfully as a compositional element. Its fold marks, crinkles, its life as canvas takes precedence. It becomes a surface marked but not overshadowed.

The artist is too engrossed in the quality of her line at present. The subtle patterning of her canvases happens more naturally, less self-consciously than the line. Her lines work best when they are simply marks on the canvas with no baggage of meaning as explicit drawings or delineations.

One senses that these works are still tentative, experimental. Some of them incorporate more conventional use of acrylic, to their detriment. It kills the magic and mystery of her work when it becomes too explicitly painting.

Kasha Linville