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.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Stanley Whitney / Other Colors I Forget

Although spring has not quite arrived in New York, there is a wonderful show that will immediately expunge any memories of the long, cold winter. Other Colors I Forget is an exhibit of new paintings by Stanley Whitney at Team, a gallery in the Tribeca area of Manhattan.

STANLEY WHITNEY    Nigerian Smile, 2012    oil on linen  72 x 72 inches

The palette is vibrant and clear, and the loosely painted rectangles of color seem ready to sway in a light breeze. Thin horizontal bands gently anchor the color blocks without locking them in place. Although the compositions are orderly and reference the grid, there is a refreshing spontaneity to them.   

STANLEY WHITNEY   Bodyheat, 2012   oil on linen   96 x 96 inches

Whitney's transparent layering of the paint lends these paintings freshness and slow intensity. The colors are bright, and the relationships often hot, but it's best to take your time with them.  The seven canvases on exhibit range in size from 48 to 96 inches square.

STANLEY WHITNEY: (from the interview on Bombsite, see link to the full interview below)     "The only system I have really is top, middle, and bottom. Even if I wanted to make a red painting, I couldn’t do it. I have to let the color take me wherever it takes me. Sometimes I paint little paintings, not like studies, but just to keep working. And sometimes I go, Oh, I can turn this into a big painting. But then I can’t do it because I have to be totally open to wherever the painting takes me. The idea is that color cannot be controlled and that it has total freedom. One color can’t overpower another color, you know. It’s very democratic, very New York."

The work is on exhibit at Team Gallery, 83 Grand Street, through May 12.

STANLEY WHITNEY   Songbird, 2012    oil on linen   48 x 48 inches

Click here for the complete David Reed interview with Stanley Whitney on Bombsite.   It is a long interview and the discussion first turns to color, space, structure and density about half way through. Whitney also brings up connections to music, particularly jazz, and the work of Cezanne and Judd.

Click here to see some of Whitney's earlier work.