New York

Loretta Dunkelman, Rachel bas-Cohain

A.I.R. Gallery

Loretta Dunkelman, showing at A.I.R., works with oil and wax base chalks on paper. Three of the four very large works on exhibit are white and divided by grids. Underneath the layers of white are ones of colors, usually pink or lavender, which give the white a faint color and which are particularly visible at the grids. The surfaces are very reflective, and there is a tendency for them to seem overly spread out and vague, particularly in the pieces with large grids and little color. The most successful large piece is Ice Wall which has the smallest grid and greater density of surface. It is closer to Dunkelman’s drawings which, as is often the case, are more substantial than her larger works at this point. The most eccentric piece in the show is a foldout book on each page of which is the cutout, white silhouette of a parrot with hints of color around the edges. At this point Dunkelman’s work does not involve enough of the artist’s own thinking; too many of the ideas involved—the grid, the white surface, the layering—are generally accessible, if not specifically traceable.

Rachael bas-Cohain showed work at A.I.R. which involves naturally formed configurations. A piece called Riding the MTA consists of eight cracked glass windows removed from the cars of that subway system and hung in a row, as is, from the ceiling. In another piece, air is pumped between two sealed sheets of glass containing soap so that a network of bubbles constantly forms and reforms. In a third piece, the temperature was controlled so that frost formed on a sheet of stainless steel and dew on one of copper. Another piece called Study #1 for Grand Vortices is a Plexiglas box filled with water in which four whirlpools swirl continually. Like Dunkelman’s, bas-Cohain’s work is reduced and austere without being complex or original.

Roberta Pancoast Smith