New York

Sharon Gold

O.K. Harris

Sharon Gold’s acrylic-on-canvas-on-wood paintings are a congregation of dark, almost black rectangles varying slightly in size. From the center of the room the surfaces seem matte and monotone; moving closer they are wonderfully shiny, scratched, imperfect and underlaid with many layers of color. Like the black paintings of Ad Reinhardt, these canvases have been trisected. The recurring “T” configuration, painted in the same overall tone but a few strata thicker and against the grade of the rest of the painted surface, functions like cartilage, connective tissue holding the darkness taut over the larger-than-a-human-body expanse.

The paintings have a sculptural solidity owing to the third dimension created by the width of wood on which the canvas has been set. One painting may serve as the key to all the others and literally stands out in relation to all of them. Painted a greenish-black on both sides, it is placed at a right angle to the wall. Here a third dimension has been constructed utilizing the broadness of the frame and the illusion of transparency gained by painting opposite sides of one object the same color. Although the frame and the paint create surfaces with their own three-dimensional existences, the very darkness and thickness of the paint, whether of purple, brown or blue cast, create not only surfaces but space.

In Gold’s paintings one senses the artist’s resistance to accumulating more paint ridges or exposing more under-painting or palette-knife scrapings. There are purposely no cameo performances here. In this way the paintings can be said to fall in line with a Minimalist esthetic wherein an individual element of a painting—paint, shape, color, surface—never takes precedence over another. The paintings emit a spirit of finesse and consideration which is the outgrowth of the artist’s successful attempt at keeping all these at peace with each other.

If I were designing a thunder-clap, the urge to put down one pure black sound would be as strong as the Wagnerian urge to emphasize emphatically, to punctuate and frame in an attempt to sustain the event’s impact. On the one hand, the gravity of Gold’s work lies in its surface, the heaviness of the paint, the weight of the canvas-covered thick-edged wood, yet the beauty of the work lies in the shedding of this gravity through identical means: the surface of the rectangles, darkly and wonderfully present, are at the same time the means by which they become rectangular cut-outs in the gallery wall. The weight and three-dimensional solidity of the canvas-covered wood moves the blackness closer toward us while simultaneously acting as a sill, a trajectory into a deeper darkness beyond.

Gold continuously tests the stresses between Minimalist dogma and a more subjective, almost existential approach. This is characterized by monotone revealing bedrock of electric color, where density gives way at times to transparency, and where what appears to be flat coverage from a distance is tactilely and optically a most painterly painting.

Judith Lopes Cardozo