new-york

Irving Petlin

Odyssia Gallery

Irving Petlin sets up rich structures with metaphorical properties that link him to such European symbolists as Klimt and Redon. Although a figurative artist, Petlin achieves the mystery Redon described as the “effect of the abstract line acting directly on the human spirit.” The dominant image is of an arid yet germinatng landscape. These disturbing settings seem to function as a metaphor for man’s journey; figures and figure groups are archetypal—family, child, survivor. Petlin’s work is allegorical, but the emotional drama is conveyed less by the symbolic narrative than by the paintings’ dreamlike physicality and sumptuous chromatic structure.

Petlin calls these landscapes “postatomic,” and indeed, matter has been drastically broken up. Unnerving images communicate a conception of Nature enacting antithetical processes of decay and biological growth. A cosmos of dissolution and change

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