New York

Richard Diebenkorn

Poindexter Gallery

At Poindexter Richard Diebenkorn showed a series of drawings in gouache, charcoal, and ink which consolidated a whole range of esthetic cues to be found in work such as Franz Kline’s and Eva Hesse’s. The drawings are clearly related to the “Ocean Park” series of paintings, some of which comprised Diebenkorn’s last show here, and two of which were on hand with the drawings. The interest of the “Ocean Park” series seemed to be in drawing within painting, that is, with identifying the possibility of figuration with a certain technique, and then asserting the sensuous priority of paint and the abstraction of painting through the proper handling of paint and color. The drawing done within those paintings was abstract to begin with, but always with a suggestion of map-like, landscape figure blushing through.

The drawings, apparently because they are limited to very drab shades, where colored at all, looked more abstract than the paintings, and they make it appear that the problem is to find strategies for structuring the surface which will eliminate figuration in fact but acknowledge the potential for it. There is plenty of tension between lines and edges and between corners and the crossings of lines on the surface, and the feeling is that what is holding figuration off is this activation of the framing edges and corners. Somehow the color used in the paintings weakens this tension considerably and tends to weaken the paintings slightly as well, though one didn’t feel this until the drawings and paintings were shown together. Since I see them this way, I found the choice of paintings to accompany the drawings rather strange; in both of the paintings the color was quite assertive.

The variety among the drawings is really surprising considering that they all seem to be about the same thing more or less. Each one has a distinct emotional tone which lent the show a sort of melodic. character, not to suggest that the feelings evoked were especially light. A couple of the pieces opened up dark, forbidding spaces.

Kenneth Baker