New York

Landscape Painting

First Street Gallery

Again the desire to produce finished looking paintings seems to dominate the show “Landscape Painting” at the First Street Gallery. Everyone has taken some approach to nature and painted it. The paintings are for the most part strong and European influenced. Taken together they appear too finished to be developing. But that is inherent in a show of one piece per artist. While the roots are in the 19th and 20th-century masters, there is more physical directness in both seeing and painting here than in the works at Duane Street.

There is a definite compositional sensibility to the American scene in the works of Gabriel Laderman and Catherine Murphy. Marjorie Portnov’ssmall landscape harks to 19th-century naturalism with a simple geometry of tree groups on the ground plane seen in perspective clearly but not overtly measured. The Flemish fervor of a small landscape by Bonnie Sklarski and all its schema takes one back to the Hudson River School of the past and the wonder of the intense articulation of surface to produce an illusion of air and space and natural forms.

The paintings of Lennart Anderson and Richard Chiriani do stand out in their antithetical but personal approaches to nature. Anderson creates a surface of color and tone changes punctuated by several small “spots” of paint (perhaps a stake or a bare branch) which tacks down the instant in a manner similar to some of Degas’ monoprint landscapes. His whole canvas is a metaphor for nature and its sense of flux.

Chiriani on the other hand takes his prescribed Albertian theories and develops and constructs a picture in which he can create or retract form at will in order to give us an esoteric, philosophic representation of his will to control reality. His involvement with his ideas and ideals gives the viewer a world free of problems, where each form is positive and in harmony with another. This harmony is restive and tends to deny the discontinuity and actual change which the perceptual painter must confront and, hence, takes some of the experience of life out of it. Though his painting is interesting, it requires the finest of choice and execution in order to hold the viewer’s attention.

Donald Butkovich