Monday, April 29, 2013

BLINKY PALERMO at David Zwirner

BLINKY PALERMO    II Who knows the beginning and who knows the end? 1976 
  Acrylic on 2 sheets of drawing paper
Each drawing 11 7/5 x 8 ¼

Aaah. Blinky Palermo. What better to look at on a beautiful spring day (or any day, for that matter).  Direct, stripped down, but filled with soul.  An exquisite show of acrylic on paper drawings by Palermo is on exhibit at David Zwirner, in Chelsea, April 25 through June 29, 2013. The occasion for this treat is the 70th anniversary of Palermo's birth. 

Palermo lived in New York from 1973 to 1977 and most of the work in this exhibition dates from 1976-77.  All the drawings are modest in scale and  executed in acrylic on drawing paper mounted on cardboard. Although barely visible in the more distant views of the suites, all were done on sheets from a spiral bound drawing notebook. I mention this because the perforated edge adds to the honesty of this body of work--while Palermo addresses important concerns in the vocabulary of abstraction, he does so without conceit.   (The images in this post came from the gallery website. Unfortunately, I was not able to access close up views of individual drawings in the suites with multiple drawings.)

BLINKY PALERMO  1 – 7  Untitled, 1976    Acrylic on drawing paper mounted on cardboard
Each drawing: 12 5/8 x 9 3/8, mounted on cardboard and framed separately.
Staatliche Graphische Sammlung Munich    

BLINKY PALERMO   Das gelbe Fenster, 1976    Acrylic and graphite on 2 sheets of drawing paper mounted on cardboard
Each sheet:   11 5/8 x 8 1/4"

Palermo's drawings are difficult to categorize--they are minimalist in composition and palette, but not formulaic in any way. In some drawings the hand of the artist is revealed through expressive brushwork. Yet in others, the brushwork is barely visible and it is only in the subtle imperfections of the geometry that we feel his presence.    

Most of the drawings were executed either in pairs or in series of 4 to 12 drawings, and there is a sense of experimentation across each series. Several of the suites of drawings are titled 'Tageszeiten', indicating these drawings may have been a daily activity for Palermo. He  explores figure/ground relationships, perceptions of depth, and the saturation of color all quite deliberately, but without pretension.  


BLINKY PALERMO      Nevada, 1976   Acrylic on 2 sheets of drawing paper mounted on cardboard
Each sheet:  12 5/8 x 9 3/8"  in a single frame  
Kunstmuseum Bonn

Works in black, red and white are prominent in the exhibit, but there are drawings in other palettes as well.  1-12, 12 Monate, 1976 is a suite of drawings in which the colors include yellows, red, green and blue. (Once again, I was not able to access a good quality file of the installation.)  

BLINKY PALERMO    1 – 4  Tageszeiten, 1976     Acrylic on drawing paper mounted on cardboard in 4 parts.     Each drawing: 12 ½ x 9 3/8" mounted on cardboard in a separate frame

BLINKY PALERMO    1 – 7 Untitled (for Babette), 1976     Acrylic on drawing paper mounted on cardboard in 7 parts. Each drawing 11 5/8 x 8 ½”, mounted on cardboard in a separate frame. Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, NY

 Das Rastel (below) is one of several pieces that is primarily gestural. Here, Palermo uses black both as gesture and to depict a void. 
BLINKY PALERMO   Das Ratsel,  1976   Acrylic on 3 sheets of drawing paper mounted on cardboard.  
 Each sheet 11 5/8 x 8 1/4"

The appeal of these drawings is in the unassuming manner in which Palermo works through the explorations.  The work is often quiet, slow, and enormously satisfying.  There is much more to see in this exhibit, and while you are there, stop in to see early works by Richard Serra on the first floor.


  1. This show looks great; I'm very much looking forward to seeing it.

    1. I know you are a fan of Palermo's work Altoon. I'm certainly going to see it again. By the way, try to be at the gallery late in the day. Despite the shades over the windows, there were intense reflections that made it very difficult to see an entire wall of drawings in one of the main gallery rooms.