New York

Bill Komoski

Koury Wingate Gallery

Bill Komoski’s recent paintings look like mechanically produced images, even though their effects are achieved through the gestural acts of sponging and wiping. His brushstrokes and smears resemble the flat, two-toned gestures of printmaking, as well as the visible pull of the squeegee in a botched silkscreen. The one truly painterly moment in Komoski’s paintings is the presence of drips moving horizontally across the sides, making it clear that these works were painted on the floor. The drips instantly contextualize Komoski’s practice within the tradition of abstract painting, even though our first impression may lead us to believe otherwise.

Komoski gets a remarkable amount of light into his paintings, considering the matte quality of his acrylic surfaces and the absence of any color beside a dark blue-purple and the chalky white ground. Light seems to shine directly out of the image rather than off of the surface, as it does in most oil painting. Three works here—all Untitled, 1989—are pure non-images. These paintings are composed of horizontal smears, bisected vertically by a columnar light source of varying widths, which dissipates within the hazy striations. The positive/negative coloration and quality of light in these works makes them like X rays of abstract paintings, which reveal only a light source and the skeletal structure of an image. Komoski’s progress from painting to painting is bounded by small variations in process—more or less space between the stripes, differing strength of light and degree of clarity. The greatest change comes in another Untitled, 1989, which contains oval-shaped cartoon eyeballs floating within a sea of Lichtensteinesque two-tone brushstrokes. The eyes—the only clearly identifiable images used by Komoski in this show—act as a metonym for the almost purely visual nature of his work.

Two wall drawings were also included in the show. Wall Drawing (Stripe), 1989, is a vertical sunflower-yellow stripe running from floor to ceiling. Its edges are blurry, so that it fades into the white of the wall. The yellow is the only color which interrupts Komoski’s consistent grisaille, and the central shape seems to refer to the columnar light source of the other paintings. Wall Drawing (Frame), 1989, is a painted trapezoidal frame composed of trapped strokes and smears, whose shape and placement echoes Marcel Breuer’s windows at the Whitney. These works extend readings of Komoski’s practice a bit beyond the usual discourse surrounding Modernist abstraction.

Matthew A. Weinstein