New York

Rudolf Baranik

Lerner-Heller Gallery

Rudolf Baranik was painting in the heyday of the New York School, in the mid-1950s, both in Paris and then in New York. In his paintings cellular clusters of light, some containing obscured photographic fragments showing body parts, are softened and made vague by a characteristic sfumato. In each work such a configuration is enclosed between void black fields as dense as lampblack, with the thick, mossy blackness of early mezzotints. There is really only one mood here, a depression that is more persistent than chronic. This is, in its own way, the reverse of sentimentality, and yet it is related to it: an arch extremism in the proportions of vast black areas to the lighter conglomerate patches is the formal equivalent. This art is serious with a vengeance.

Joseph Masheck