New York

Jack Goldstein

Josh Baer Gallery

Jack Goldstein is a painter of nature in the age of space exploration. From his early performance and film work to his later photorealistic scenes à la Scientific American, Goldstein’s theme has been the eminent domain of nature and science over society One of the seminal figures in the movement toward a slick, conceptual, media-based art in the early ’80s, he emerges today as a vital connection between the sarcastic kitsch of media appropriation and the new minimal abstraction that is now eliciting such attention. Goldstein’s importance, however, is not as a master conceptualist or technician, and his art is more intuitive than doctrinaire in manner. His focus is on the blinding distraction of special effects, the measurement of culture’s appetite for the pomp and circumstance of escapist entertainment. The exaggerated scale of the appropriated computer-enhanced imagery in his paintings is a metaphor for the mass media, but by using images of nature, if distantly removed, instead of media imagery per se, Goldstein’s work becomes more universal (more abstract).

The development of Goldstein’s imagery has been a logical progression, a pseudoscientific investigation that advanced the art into the area of mass-consumed technology while keeping the dramatic focus on the raw and organic, a parade of natural phenomena as cultural spectacle. He has abandoned the “real” look of photography, choosing to communicate a facsimile of reality through the application of programmed mathematical equivalents. If art’s curious status as the facsimile of truth and surrogate for experience is an issue for Goldstein, then these paintings of a computer’s reading of photographic and nonphotographic data serve to link artistic and scientific veracity As such, however, the truth is no longer relative to what is seen or emotionally felt, but can be determined only by scientific measurement, such as degree of heat or velocity of motion. The current drive by painters to clinically distance themselves from invention and to remove any evidence of facture is a means of avoiding questions of originality and authenticity a ploy that Goldstein has consistently if minimally used. Yet the cultural claustrophobia that makes so much Post-Modern art insipid (including Goldstein’s paintings up to the recent computer images) is exploded by the enigmatically beautiful hyperrealism of the new work, in a display of star-spangled pyrotechnics. Though each painting is icily formal in its academic staging, a frozen spectacle, it has at center a glaring atomic light show A swirl of Dayglo colors radiates its sci-fi light, colors so hot they’re cold, so cold they’re hot. Ultimately, what propels the glowing celestial bodies in Gold-stein’s arty scientific paintings is the same mutant energy, the same stray volts of consumerist electroshock, that powers the cool minimal abstraction of artists like Peter Halley and Jeff Koons.

Carlo McCormick