Aaron Fink

Alpha Gallery

This exhibition of 15 works marks the first show devoted entirely to Aaron Fink’s counterproofs. By laying paper down on wet painted canvas and pulling it off, Fink produces what he terms a “counter-image.” The works exhibited here contain Fink’s signature centered images of mundane subjects ranging from a hat to a candle flame to a bunch of hanging grapes. All of the works combine encrusted layers of paint with fluid areas of black ink to create rich, moody surfaces. Their subject is the tension between the illusion of the object and the physicality of the paint.

In Apple, 1990, a work that incorporates sparse areas of paint and highly textured surfaces, a piece of fruit that looks as if it is beginning to decay also suggests chipping housepaint. Two Tomatoes, 1989, is a twin image—one yellow and one orange—crisscrossed by grids of gray paint that drip down onto a lower pink portion of the canvas. Here the vegetables lose their objectness, and seem to float like two colossal organisms against a sea of deep blue. On close scrutiny, the left-hand tomato becomes a backdrop for subliminal images of trees and cascading waterfalls.

Hanging Grapes, 1990, a close-up view of the fruit maximizing texture and design, suggests the tattered facture of a Clyfford Still. Touched with accents of luscious red and black, and highlighted with white paint, the purple grapes appear three-dimensional.

Fink is a lyrical colorist and his two images of candle flames reveal an array of colors ranging from orange to pink. These hot images penetrate the blackness that surrounds them with a mystical light.

In Hat, 1989, a gigantic fedora with a black band seems to levitate above the picture plane. Open areas bisect the hat and various colors drip through the image. Surrounded by a landscape of green and black punctuated with grey vertical areas, the surface is decidedly lush. Like all of Fink’s best works, Hat dissolves into the strokes and drips of paint.

In the same manner as the better-known canvases from which they are derived, the counterproofs combine the heroic painterly gesture with banal subject matter. In these reversed images the subject serves as a vehicle for getting into the paint.

Francine A. Koslow