New York

Arlene Slavin

Fischbach Gallery downtown

Arlene Slavin still uses a small diamond grid, formed by intersecting. diagonals, but now it merely forms an underlying structure to plot much larger shapes and areas. This broadens the scale of Slavin’s work considerably. The grid is nonetheless responsible for the general layout, resulting in a series of diamond shapes of varying sizes and proportion. Diamonds with sets of greatly unequal sides read like large rectangles in extreme and rigid perspective, floating in space, which intersect with the picture plane. This tilts pictorial space inward, creating the illusion of an aerial plan of some city, a little like the architectural renderings which Malevich derived from his more complicated Suprematist configurations. Slavin counters this inward tilt with a few horizontal and vertical divisions of the paintings which disregard the grid and with light areas of brushed color which extend over or behind the diamond shapes. In addition, each painting consists of two or three separate panels. At first there does not seem to be much reason for the panels, but it becomes obvious that each one is a discrete entity with its individual composition and color scheme balancing but not exactly continuing the adjacent panel. Slavin’s many colors are stained, bright, ranging from light to dark, but often looking pastel. There is a preponderance of magentas, maroons, lavenders and purples balanced by sharp pale greens, yellows and flesh tones. Both colors and shapes are carefully arranged within a given panel, creating a random, yet balanced asymmetry. Slavin’s complicated asymmetry, her use of discrete panels related by the same colors in slightly different tones or proportions, is similar to the work of David Novros, although her palette and the geometry are busier and spacier. Slavin is a whiz at composition, but I wish she would calm down. Her complexity is more thin and decorative than it is profound. The most fragmented areas of some paintings look like designer fabrics. Like Bowling, Slavin is competent, improving and also exceptionally industrious, but I am bothered by the somewhat commercial references of her elaborate palette and the representational character of her geometry.

Roberta Smith