New York

Jo Goldberg

Leonard Perlson Gallery

In her first show of paintings, Jo Goldberg exhibited six large, unstretched, horizontal canvases (and two small vertical ones) that hover in between abstraction and representation. All of them show a strong sense of landscape, as if one were peering into an overgrown thicket. They also demonstrate a broad range of emotional tone, from somber and stately in the earlier works to a brighter, slightly oversweet, stylized tachism in the most recent. The somber tone was achieved by using an old master palette, building up the colors in layers from ochers through greens to black. Although she maintained the concept of layering in the newer paintings, she experimented with a wider range of colors, placing more emphasis on the primaries.

Goldberg employs a variety of working methods and, true to her roots in performance art, has incorporated her different approaches to the making of these paintings into the works themselves. She also videotaped herself while painting and included the videotape as part of the exhibition. Sometimes, as with Untitled #7, 1986, and Untitled #8, 1987, Goldberg begins with the canvas laid out on the floor, then works with it mounted on the wall, then on the ceiling. She always uses a variety of tools to apply paint, some involving feathers or other unusual materials, others deliberately long and unwieldy to reduce the artist’s control. Goldberg paints with a ritualistic attentiveness, preparing herself through meditation practices and applying the paint without conscious deliberation, attempting to bring the work up into being directly from the unconscious and the body’s impulses. Marks of her hands and feet and other body parts can be seen in the dense, entangled surfaces. In these works, as in some others of this moment, action painting, somewhat redefined, has been found to be still a useful method.

Thomas McEvilley