New York

Philip Geiger

Tatistcheff Gallery

By remaining loyal to his own outlook and pictorial inclinations, Philip Geiger, a realist painter in his early 30s, has achieved a heightened level of expression in his recent show. Geiger’s mastery of appearances has become sharper and clearer even as he has honed his ability to seize the moment—to get below the surface and beyond the instant at the more substantial essence of things.

Like Edward Hopper, Geiger is attuned to the poetic dynamic locked beneath the prosaic scenery of 20th-century America. Taking his Charlottesville, Virginia, surroundings as his subject matter, he has provided a portrait of contemporary life that is convincing in the highest esthetic sense—it is true to subjective experience.

Favoring casual snapshot views, Geiger has made the passage of time a key to unlocking this poetic dynamic. In Two Interiors (all works 1989), the fleeting character of time was compellingly captured by the rhythmical movement of the atmospheric planes of color that seem to envelop the entire scene in a dissolving light even as they accurately describe the figures, the pieces of furniture and the walls of adjoining rooms.

In Scott Noel in his Studio, time is both held and extended. A seated figure with one elbow on his knee and a hand cupped under his chin, seems to be absorbed by the light coming through the open studio door, just as the viewer is engaged by the depicted instant thanks to the pure painterly appeal of the sensuous strokes that define the forms. The tendency to share in the figure’s contemplative mood and the overall feeling of reverie that pervades the composition is, in the final analysis, irresistible.

Ronny Cohen