New York

Frank Gerritz

Stark Gallery

As the work of Frank Gerritz suggests, it is time to recognize the occult character of geometrical abstraction: to view it as a transition to Constructivism, as stylistic positivism does, is as misleading as to regard it as a symbol of sociopolitical revolution. The “desert” experience Kasimir Malevich claimed his Suprematist square affords is a mystical one. Malevich’s abstract geometry is an intellectually and emotionally accessible yet nonimagistic personification of the absolute, and the luminous field the “alternative,” heavenly space of transcendence in which it exists.

The paradoxical, mystical relationship of geometrical figure and luminous field—they occupy the same plane but are differentiated enough to seem separate—is emblematic of the viewer’s relationship to the absolute. Through its psychoesthetics, the icon evokes the feeling of being in such a relationship. We identify with the absolute (become symbiotically one with it in spirit) but do not lose the sense of our apparent difference from it.

Gerritz’s drawings show that geometrical mysticism is alive and well, and the dark glass through which it is viewed today only serves to render the geometry uncannily luminous, lending it almost gnostic significance. Gerritz’s squares, like Malevich’s, are occult entities. Nine of them unite in a grid that functions as the figure in his icons. In effect, the grid is an extended icon; as Plato and Spinoza wrote, geometry is the eternal made articulate.

In one large drawing, a cross appears epiphanically simply by eliminating a few lines from the grid in which it nevertheless remains embedded. In another, a cross again emerges, this time because the squares that constitute it are blacker than the surrounding ones. In a third piece, the center of the cross—which becomes apparent by reason of its blackness as well as through the lines that extend from it—is formed by the grid in the larger field, acting as a microcosm of the work as a whole. It is as though Gerritz were proving Cusanus’ assertion that the cosmos, mystically comprehended, is a circle with no center and a circumference that is everywhere—like a grid.

In a somewhat different manner, Gerritz’s smaller drawings and his castiron cubes, each a three-dimensionalized grid comprised of the same nine squares (the same size as the drawn grid) are also centered on the cross which in one graphic work is enveloped in a turbulent luminosity. Though aware of its symbolic weight, Gerritz views the cross as a mystical construction of five squares, an inseparable part of an iconic grid. By reminding us of the transcendental nature of the most uncompromising geometrical abstraction, Gerritz suggests that art at its best is often no more, and no less, than an eternal return to an eternal truth—a constant meditative circling around a basic truth of being.

Donald Kuspit