New York

Ramiro Llona

Ramiro Llona offers a truly sentient vision, one resoundingly in tune with the aggressive visual sensibility of the ’80s. He is a powerful painter in the daring, don’t-play-it-safe tradition of a Pablo Picasso or a Willem de Kooning. With his intense palette and his ability to evoke mood through high-keyed color combinations and to suggest situations through ambiguous forms, Llona pushed his painting to new expressive heights in this show of recent work.

These paintings and drawings feature a shifting, fractured, multifaceted space, which plays in sometimes startling but always engaging ways with various psychological and perceptual notions of nearness and distance, inside and outside. Llona infuses depth and dimension into this space through dynamic arrangements of inventive shapes; at once both strange and familiar, these shapes set off an open, associative kind of viewing which finally reveals the grace implicit in his approach. In the large Looking at the Landscape While I Walk Backwards, 1984, the colors range from pink, yellow, a faint gray, and a tentative white in the upper portions of the picture to heavier blue, green, and brown tones in the lower section. Seeming to have sailed across the surface and only gingerly settled into their appointed spots in the composition, these colors breathe a fresh pictorial life into the image. This fleeting, tenuous quality also focuses attention on the gestural aspects of the eerie shapes that start by bringing to mind houses only to slip first into connotations of tables or bases and then into abstract patterns. Here and elsewhere, Llona permits the audience not one but several points of access to the image. He allows us to enter just so far, however; we get to know the works interpenetrating structures, but not the secret to their intensely strong presence. And therein lies the continual fascination of Llona’s art.

Ronny Cohen