Yanick Lapuh

Alpha Gallery

Yanick Lapuh makes his debut solo show with an impressive selection of ten abstract diptychs that consist of canvases mounted on wood. Lapuh is a master of illusion, employing diagrammatic variations based on the cube. Each diptych consists of panels of contrasting muted color, texture, and shape. In a number of works, the cube appears on the right panel as a series of precisely etched lines on a flat ground. This simple, geometric form is juxtaposed with a left panel, sometimes square and sometimes repeating the contours of the right portion, covered with strips of wood that protrude from the surface in varying degrees.

Lapuh employs a rich variety of materials on both panels of his diptychs. In S Z 19 (all works 1990), the flat right panel consists of thin layers of brown oil pigment sprinkled with burned wood ashes and topped with a layer of paint mixed with turpentine. This smoky, fluid ground is accented with a spatial rendering of a cube, suggested by thin, exacting lines of yellow carpenters’ chalk. The more complex left panel consists of 14 separate wooden planks covered with plaster and darker combinations of paint and wax. Seven small wooden balls are affixed to the panels at various locations.

The left panels of the most successful diptychs are informed by an industrial sensibility, employing materials like rusted metal, tar, or asphalt. Several years ago, Lapuh realized a series of triptychs that suggested the form and material of manhole covers. His recent work has moved away from obvious industrial references to more subtle sculptural elaborations. S Z 7 juxtaposes an ochre-and-green rectangle with a six-sided panel featuring a rendering of a black cube. The left side is divided in two and then further segmented by separate wood strips attached with gesso and nails.

In S Z 12, Lapuh repeats the hexagonal contours of the right-hand panel, and emphasizes the contrasts of color and texture between the right and the left sides. A flat, pearlescent gray rendering of a cube contrasts with a thickly textured, six-sided bronze construction. Segmented into 14 variously proportioned trapezoids that meet at the middle, this dark, mottled panel is further adorned with 12 painted dowels, to create a tension between two-dimensional and three-dimensional space. The hard-edged contours are contrasted with a few well-placed painterly splashes of green.

Though Brice Marden’s monochromatic fields of beeswax and Frank Stella’s early aluminum shaped canvases come to mind, Lapuh is more concerned with the dialogue between the spontaneity of action painting and the stability of primary forms than he is with furthering the tradition of Minimal painting. His graceful evocations initiate a play of appearance and reality in which the sublime meets the material.

Francine A. Koslow