New York

Vladimir German

OK Harris

For Vladimir German, a painter who left the Soviet Union in 1981 and now resides in New York, painting is an occasion for reconstituting the world of appearances in terms of a series of discrete impressions animated with glowing color.

In this show German focused on bodies of water, a subject he has treated frequently in recent years, revealing, once again, his interest in multipanel formats. In Far Rockaway Seascape—Ocean, 1982–90, a central image depicting rolling waves and cloudy mists, is surrounded by side panels used to elaborate various aqueous effects; each frame focused on a different aspect of the seascape depicted in the center section. In other words, German has broken the integrated spatial and temporal point of view that provided the foundation of traditional single-moment, perspectival representation.

In “36 Views of the Ocean,” 1990, German worked in various formats including triptychs, diptychs, and single panels. Focusing on atmospheric effects, he brought out the rich range of physical sensations that can be experienced before the ocean in different seasons and at various times of day. In 36 Views of the Ocean #4, German evoked the immensity of space that looms above a low horizon. In 36 Views of the Ocean #8, perhaps the most abstract diptych of the group, a low horizon line is repeated in each of the adjoining panels. If the bleaching light of the sun was suggested in the white surfaces of the right panel, the modulated oranges covering the other sections brought to mind the various ways in which the sun’s rays can be filtered by the sea. The blending of tones gave the surfaces a lively quality that introduced a note of ambiguity and depth, belying the initial impression of flatness and providing additional room for reflection.

Ronny Cohen