New York

Susan Crile

Graham Modern

In her recent show veteran abstractionist Susan Crile has revealed a side of her vision that was never adequately accommodated by the formal and objective currents that dominated her work during the ’70s and most of the ’80s. She has left the sphere of abstraction bound by the Hard-Edge mind-set and created a universe of plastic invention teeming with feelings and strong physical sensations, where the only boundaries are those imposed by lack of passion.

Paintings like Shifting Shifter, 1989, Soft, Wild & Naked, 1989, Pulse Beat, 1990, Erotic Containment, 1990, and Radiant Object, 1990, reveal how Crile is now using form as a shaper of space in a visceral sense. The dynamic qualities inherent in the repeated oval and undulating curve motifs, as well as those that animate the relationships between forms, create that particular dynamic whereby abstract paintings accrue meaning.

In Shifting Shifter, a drama of transformation seemed to occur as a large white oval in the left portion of the painting intersected with a gray oval tipped to the right. Together the ovals suggested separate phases of the same form. Highlighted against a ground consisting of four zones, each with a different open web pattern recalling various organic structures such as cells or nerves, the ovals took on figural connotations as the painting’s protagonists.

Soft, Wild & Naked, Pulse Beat, and Erotic Containment seemed to underscore Crile’s interests in putting forth, as she explained in her statement accompanying the show, “a language that allows me to paint about the indeterminate aspects of self — those aspects which are not clearly defined, but which exist in an area of ambiguity, both physically and psychologically.” In Pulse Beat, the sac-like form that served as the central motif suggested various body parts such as the heart or uterus, while its placement in the midst of checkered planes ranging in shape from flat to full and volumetric spoke of surging forces, of flow. In Radiant Object, an oval looms over a landscape consisting again of wavy checkerboards; and once again the transcendent feeling, the energy produced by the luminous treatment of color and the lively rhythms of the composition seemed to address a very internal place in the psyche.

Ronny Cohen