New York

Betsy Kaufman

Berland Hall

Betsy Kaufman’s spare abstractions offer stimulating appraisals of that perhaps most crucial dynamic determining not only the visual but the intellectual parameters of abstract painting: the relationship of surface and image. Kaufman handles this dynamic with keen sensitivity to the expressive potentials of both its formal and its thematic components.

The issue of surface is brought to attention first by the starkly declarative frame-in-frame format of the paintings. This format consists of a rectangular colored image surrounded by a white border. Almost immediately the question arises as to whether the area with the image is collaged on or not, so sharp and even does the raised edge of the image surface appear. As for the issue of the image itself, the question of illusion with respect to perceptual recognition is further complicated by the very simplicity of the forms Kaufman employs. They include the circles arranged randomly across the narrow horizontal surface in Ocular, 1990, and the blip, pear and peanutlike configurations found in Rove and Side Effects, both 1990. So strong is the impression of advancing movement as the image optically separates from the surface in Ocular, that the circles appear to be collaged on. While the clarity of these paintings speaks to us directly of order and structure, at the same time there is something wonderfully whimsical about the composition of the images.

Ronny Cohen