New York

Ed Moses

Ronald Feldman Fine Arts

Ed Moses’ four new paintings at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts are different from his resin, canvas, and powdered pigments paintings of the last few years, but they are like the earlier works in certain basic respects. The new works are also paintings that are tacked directly to the wall without supports. They are generally rectangular with rough, erratic edges, and, like the earlier works, consist of sets of colored parallel lines.

The new works are made of Japanese tissue paper and acrylic, with the paper playing an active role in the formation of the works. The works are formed by sets of parallel bands of paper on a generally horizontal diagonal. The sets alternate sloping toward right and left and overlap. Of the three works in which the sets of bands are alternating diagonals (the sets of bands in a fourth work are all horizontal), one work is painted in extremely light, faint, pastel colors, except for the top band on each diagonal set, which is painted red. The situation of the sets of bands is essentially the same in two other works, but in one, the individual bands are of alternating pink and gray blue color, and the other was painted both with and against the direction of the sets of bands, producing a woven illusion, and making the identity of the bands nearly indistinguishable.

For me, the work with the red top bands, and that with alternating pink and blue gray bands were the most interesting by presenting an ambiguous illusion of depth and flatness. In both cases, the overlapping sets of diagonal bands are almost like a kind of oriental isometric perspective. One set of colored tissue bands literally overlaps and is in front of another set, with the lowermost set being theoretically also the most forward. The other sets of bands are literally and illusionistically behind this lowest set and subsequent sets moving up the painting. However, the widths of all the bands and sets of bands are constant, thwarting the illusion of receding in space, and if anything, tend to reverse the expected reading. Within the context of illusionist perspective, the lower sets of bands can appear less forward than the upper sets. The mechanism is like that of looking at an isometric drawing of a cube: because the back side does not appear smaller than the front, as we expect, the back appears larger than the front even though they are the same size. This is essentially the kind of illusionist tension built into Moses’ very fragile works. The overlapping is literal as well as illusionistic, and at the same time, the sets of bands literally and illusionistically exist on the same plane.

Bruce Boice