New York

Turku Trajan

Paley and Lowe Gallery

The posthumous show of drawings by Turku Trajan is a tribute to an artist who was half-sanctified into an archetype after his death, when his life was reviewed in terms of a nineteenth-century Parisian bohème of poverty and neglect. Such an attitude unfortunately merely sentimentalizes and idealizes the artist as an elitist requiring special care and attention. It is obvious that the art world is run as a free market economy and that commercial, and thereby further, recognition is largely based on financial considerations, competitive politics, and individualistic exercise of power. To deplore this situation is to rant against the inherent contradiction in the role of the professional artist, who may or may not have a specific audience in mind, but whose commercial and professional audience is probably not the one he is working for.

The precise analysis of the artist’s situation must proceed in terms of his societal role, the kind of communication he participates in, and the audience(s) (if any). Trajan is certainly a complex and brilliant artist in many genres, and although his Impressionistic sources make him more accessible, he does require a special audience.

The present exhibit of mixed media drawings (mostly watercolor, with pastel, charcoal, some oil, etc.) has been ascribed to the thirties. Still lifes with some portraits are carefully wrought in thick line strokes, with a jumbling of hues as background or filling-out objects. The colors are employed for shading and tinting, individualized to near-absoluteness to almost dissolve the objects, which remain congealed only through the configuration and/or the intensity of hue. The general pattern of color emerges out of the crisscross of rapid jottings. Perspectives are negated, we see a flattening of volume and overlapping, while colors clamp foreground and background into a planar composition. The work is sensitive and fresh, even after forty years.

Joachim Neugroschel