New York

Harriet Korman


There seem to be two kinds of paintings in Harriet Korman’s show at LoGiudice. One kind is composed of a single specific shape, red or black in color, on a ground of raw canvas. The other kind contains black painted lines parallel at regular intervals on a white painted ground forming a shape or shapes on the ground of raw canvas. In one untitled painting, for example, the painted area of black and white stripes forms a rectangular “U” shape in which the base is much thicker than the vertical legs, and the parallel lines run horizontally. There seems to be a suggestion in this painting, and in the others of this kind, that the painted areas of parallel lines could fill the entire painting surface, and somehow, do so implicitly; that what shows as white and black lines just happens to show. There is also a suggestion that the white and black lines could have taken any form or occurred within any given shape on the painting’s surface, but happened to take the shape that’s there. Korman’s interest seems to be in presenting arbitrariness within formalist conventions, and in making implicit in the paintings that things could have come out differently, but it wouldn’t matter.

It is difficult to return to the single image red or black paintings and not impose these notions of arbitrariness on them. The red or black shapes are simple and hand drawn and painted. The methodology for applying paint appears one of “filling in” what is supposed to be filled in. The shapes are neither organic nor strictly geometric but somewhere in between, and are neither particularly interesting nor attractive in themselves. The painted shape on the surface of a given painting is simply a shape, a specific shape which an area of color cannot avoid having. There is nothing special about one of Korman’s shapes; it is one shape among an infinity of possibilities, and this particular shape happens to be painted on this particular canvas surface.

Bruce Boice