• Grid/Un-Grid

    Date posted: April 9, 2012 Author: jolanta

    Baras’ small, quirky paintings are varied in application—overworked in parts, encrusted or otherwise incised.  Untitled 8081 looks like caked cement dipped in a puddle of gasoline.  It’s surface is violently scratched and scraped down like a palette, yet unable to get all those old globs fully off.  After grating away to the bottom layer, the artist realizes the gem underneath. A warm grey underpainting, light iridescent pinks and blues radiating on top; this piece has a wonderful sense of quiet presence.  This kind of visual intimacy isn’t easy to do, but when it is pulled off well, it feels understated and matter of fact—as casual as a handshake and just as personal.

    Untitled 8081 looks like caked cement dipped in a puddle of gasoline.”


    Yevgeniya Baras, Untitled 8081, 2012. Mixed media, 20 x 16 in. Courtesy of Allegra LaViola

     

    Grid/Un-Grid

    By Jason Stopa

     

    I overshot the space by about a half a block.  The gallery was tucked away between two nondescript buildings near Seward Park in the Lower East Side.  I walked in the front door of Allegra LaViola to find a similarly startling experience.  Two exhibits – where the garden meets the concrete.  The two shows on view at Allegra LaViola, aptly named “Materiality” (upstairs) and “Grid List” (downstairs) comprise two strains of abstraction whose barriers are quickly disappearing.  And judging by the prevalent use of non-traditional mediums, supports and surfaces—many of these artists fall outside easy categorization. 

    “Materiality” includes Joey Archuleta, Yevgeniya Baras, Thornton Dial and Matt Stone. The most successful are the intimate images of Yevgeniya Baras.  Baras’ small, quirky paintings are varied in application—overworked in parts, encrusted or otherwise incised.  Untitled 8081 looks like caked cement dipped in a puddle of gasoline.  Its surface is violently scratched and scraped down like a palette, yet unable to get all those old globs fully off.  After grating away to the bottom layer, the artist realizes the gem underneath. A warm grey underpainting, light iridescent pinks and blues radiating on top; this piece has a wonderful sense of quiet presence.  This kind of visual intimacy isn’t easy to do, but when it is pulled off well, it feels understated and matter of fact—as casual as a handshake and just as personal.

    Jeffrey Scott Mathews, Phylum Sci, 2012. Acrylic and bismuth on canvas, 14 x 11 in. Courtesy of Allegra LaViola

     

    “Grid List” was curated by Patrick Morrissey and Mark Sengbusch and showcases 16 artists.  There are some familiar greats, including Paul Corio and Linda Francis, and as suggested in the press release, a few of the artists are working off the grid.  Most notable, is Ian Swanson’s Shepherd (2011).  He employs acrylic and resin creating a big form miniaturized for a small canvas.  A thin, blue arc cues out from the upper left corner, and then slopes downward and out the other side.  This shepherd’s staff swings out like a pendulum – waving between an open, pale, white expanse.  Similarly, Jeffrey Scott Mathews’ Phylum Sci, (2012) uses acrylic and bismuth to make a large gesture, this one self-effacing.  On top of orange and blue streaked paint, lies a heavily textured X, effectively crossing out the under layers.  X’s of course symbolize editing, taking out, or just marking something plain wrong.  Here the edit presents itself as another formal move, and due to its textural presence, it affirms and negates in the same breath.  Yet the size belies the message.  Painters such as Keltie Ferris and Amy Feldman have employed this same gesture to varying degrees, but using a large scale, their X has a body relationship.

    Still, the title of this one struck me. Phylum is a biological classification and can be generally defined as a group of organisms with a certain measure of evolutionary relatedness.  Phylum is higher on the relational chain than family or class.  And Sci means to know or comprehend.  To know one’s place is a tricky predicament in contemporary society.  We mitigate our past, present and future both in real and virtual time.  Some thoughts and feelings scattered here, and others, scattered there.  The current influx of abstraction in New York might underscore a desire to relate in a time that makes it difficult to do just that.

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