Robert C. Morgan has a nice piece in this month’s Brooklyn Rail, in which he reviews Thomas Nozkowski’s recent show at Pace Wildenstein and discusses the state of current abstract painting.
Tags: brooklyn rail, modernism, robert c. morgan, illustration, deconstruction, pace wildenstein gallery
In recent years, meaning in art is rarely discussed by critics in terms of abstract painting. The implication is that the survival of meaning in art hovers somewhere outside of abstract painting. The alternatives range from illustration on canvas to digital photography, from deconstructive texts to destructive installations, from kitsch assemblages to interactive cyber-pods. Is the concept of meaning in art long-gone, out-of-fashion, overspoiled? In theoretical jargon, it may appear too close to epistemology, as if epistemology—being the study of knowledge—has been inadvertently removed from the aesthetic, conceptual, and productive components of making art. In the wake of this insouciant exhaustion of consciousness, is it possible that substance in art may have reverted back to abstract painting? After two visits to Pace Wildenstein Gallery, the site of the recent Thomas Nozkowski exhibition, I am willing to place my bet that abstract painting is back in the saddle not because of the market, but that it means something…
…To paint abstract form suggests an intuitive process by way of a carefully constructed dexterity. This may or may not add up to being epistemological or even ontological. But is it still about meaning. In abstract painting—in the formalist sense—meaning is closely related to the result obtained from the process, that is, whether the coherence of shape, color, line, and texture hold together. Whether the mediumistic definition of abstract painting is essentially practical is finally the artist’s decision. While meaning may refer deductively to the material, pigment, and process, this does not negate the possibility that whatever appears as form is subsequently about meaning. Meaning is ultimately a linguistic extension of the manner in which the work is painted. This relates to a sense of connoisseurship in art, a pre-Modernist idea that suddenly is beginning to appear again, as if something had been missing for decades, and no one seemed to know exactly what was missing. This may sound like a standard definition of late Modernism—which, perhaps, it is. Yet there are exceptions to this hackneyed paradigm that occasionally come into view. These exceptions subvert the quotidian semiotic nuances, such as the quixotic manner in which palsy-ridden theories and ornery hybrids begin to ascend to the constellation of speculation and investment, relinquishing aesthetics and epistemology along the way. [Read More...]
May 8, 2008 No Comments
April 18, 2008 No Comments
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: paintings, Paint, monty python, oil painting, abstract painting, mason gross
April 17, 2008 1 Comment
Thomas Nozkowski On a Hike
This is another good one. A painter’s perspective…a painter looking at the world…
Abstract painter Thomas Nozkowski on a hiking trip talking about painting, nature, and finding inspiration for his work in the random juxtapositions of things on the ground…Tags: Paint, abstract painting, pace wildenstein gallery, abstract artist, thomas nozkowski, mason gross school of art
April 16, 2008 No Comments
Thomas Nozkowski – video
I’ve been twice now to see the Thomas Nozkowski show currently up at Pace Wildenstein Gallery. It is a great show and I’ll talk about why I think he is a painter worth studying in depth in the next couple of days when I have a moment to collect my thoughts. In the meantime, head over to Chelsea to check out the show or and enjoy this little video that I dug up.
April 16, 2008 No Comments