New York

Lawrence Poons

André Emmerich Gallery

It’s not often that you see a show and wish that the group of paintings would never be broken up, that they would stay together and that you could drop in on them once in a while. That was the feeling I had on the last day of Larry Poons’ show. I felt the paintings acquired an amplification from facing one another. They seemed to be alive and moving so slowly you couldn’t notice it while it was happening, but if you saw them later you might wonder if that was the way they looked last time. They also seemed to be about to grow out of their metallic frames. The frames looked as if they didn’t belong in the first place–as if the paintings might just spread across the walls until they merged.

Poons may be the ultimate Gothic artist—Gothic in the sense of emulating natural form. He combines organic form with accident with guiding light.

While I was looking at this show two aging preppies wandered through and began making gagging noises, signaling to one another that they thought these paintings resembled vomit. They don’t, but they do demand a certain viewing range, a precise distance. From farther away they might incur a regurgitory association, or a candle-in-Chianti-bottle association. From too far they are waxy and monochromatic—a sort of off flesh color. But from the implied range they are microcosmically gorgeous and fertile, eccentric mandalas for guided free association.

It’s not like gazing at clouds and seeing animals. The pictures are here, one on top of another, stacked but transparent, independent but interactive, a frozen fluid of thought that melts in your mind. In that participation is not required but elicited naturally, the paintings are musical. Their compressed light and resonant, exponential forms enlist sympathetically vibrant imaginations in an operation that starts lost in thought and ends up found there.

Glenn O’Brien