Thomas Nozkowski / Untitled (8-100) / 2008 / oil on linen on panel / 22 28 inches / © Thomas Nozkowski. Courtesy of the Artist and Pace Wildenstein Gallery
If you haven’t figured out yet, I am qute enthusiastic about the Thomas Nozkowski show at Pace. I’ve been twice so far and will probably have to head back again before it closes. My first impression was the colors. The glowing lights emitting from these small paintings were fascinating and drew me in, like the sideways pyramid of light beaming out of a television in a dark room (except of course Pace is well light, come to think of it, it would be interesting to see these paintings under different light). They reminded me of the Fra Angelico show at the Met a couple of years ago. Small paintings, radiant colors, small, intimate. They also triggered some memories of Monty Python-like animations, or Yellow Submarine, or the Great Space Coaster that I used to watch back in the 70s and 80s. Each piece struck me as a glimpse into a world, a moment in time, a thought, a memory, a scene, or drama – tightly cropped so I couldn’t see everything in total. A small window.
The shapes and forms, whether pure invention or distillations of something observed, feel alive and moving with an energy across the surface. I wonder if I turn away or blink will it still be the same. Their purpose however, seems to be as vehicles for the color – an excuse for color. The specificity of the shapes feel to me to be of secondary importance to the color. It could just be that I find the color so exciting. On the other it may be that it appears as if the shapes and forms have been drawn in and decisions on their size and position were not questioned, changed, reworked, etc. The colors, however, have been changed. over and over and over. Painted in, wiped down, rearranged, reworked, glazed over, warmed up, cooled off, toned up and toned down. Like a game or a play I just imagine little shapes running around geared up and enjoying all the fun. It’s as if hanging on the gallery wall the shapes are resting. Taking a break. on intermission. or maybe nozkowski’s just hit the pause and is waiting for us to hit play again when we walk in through the door.
As a side note – John Yau, who writes reviews for the Brooklyn Rail, has written an excellent essay for the exhibition catalog in which he speaks to both Nozkowski’s concerns as a painter and his position in relation to contemporary painting and the historical tradition. It’s definitely worth picking up a copy.
Thomas Nozkowski: Recent Work is on view through May 3, 2008 at Pace Wildenstein 534 w 25th StreetTags: mason gross school of art, john yau, contemporary abstract painting, monty python, pacewildenstein, great space coaster
April 17, 2008 1 Comment