New York

Alvin Loving

Fischbach Gallery

Although the formal precedent for Al Loving’s new pieces seems to be Stella, there is a sense of energy and playfulness to his large painted cardboard and paper constructions which recalls Matisse’s late cutout collages. Loving piles up ragged shapes and festive colors into a chaotic conglomeration which visually recreates the additive process of its making. One’s eye, flicking from one area to another, joins in the fun of putting the pieces of a puzzle together. Loving’s constructive method, his selection of scattered bits of information which combine into a whole, repeats and thereby highlights the scanning process of vision.

Like Stella, Loving is concerned with finding a literal equivalent for painting’s traditional illusionism. Collage in itself provides a technique for physical interpretation of space. Since Loving’s pieces are all attached several inches away from the wall, the cast shadows reinforce the materiality of the painting as object. Thus, while there is an ambiguous figure-ground interchange between the cardboard shapes and the spaces of the white wall between them, the shadows remind one that the cardboard is actually in front of the wall. In addition, by echoing the torn edges of the shapes, the shadows underline that these are bits of material. Loving uses the roughness of the cardboard—leaving areas unpainted or exposing the corrugated layer—to further reveal the physicality of the painted surface.

As if in recognition of their animate quality and idiosyncratic form, Loving titles his works with the names of personal friends. Roger is a sprawling-thrusting configuration in which the intense acrylic colors, drips and splatters of household paints and irregularly torn shapes all contribute to the visual energy. Loving manages to convey an enthusiasm for painting, the fun of making, while still confronting its intellectual challenge and, in particular, the questions about its physicality which are the focus of much current painting.

––Susan Heinemann