New York

Harold Bruder

Forum Gallery

Some interesting aspects of the handling of subject matter are raised by three exhibitions of representational painting. Harold Bruder is the most problematic of the three artists. His attitude toward the subjects he depicts is abstract. Rhetorical gestures abound, but no specific messages are being conveyed. The paintings recall the work of Puvis de Chavannes—many figures standing about in studied poses dressed in voluminous classical robes but not communicating with one another. In Celebration, with figures in dance-like positions, he raises more questions than he answers. We are given no substantial clues to the meaning behind the rituals he depicts, their purpose, or even their era. An interesting compositional device—averting the face of the central figure—serves to deepen the mystery. He minimizes the hierarchical focus on this figure and equalizes the allover interest of the painting. The figures exist in an indefinite, friezelike spatial plane that almost feels as though it lies in front of the picture plane. The sensations of volume created by the massive draperies are held in check by an overall bland tonality which is interrupted only occasionally by areas of Poussin-like primaries, abstractly deployed.

––April Kingsley