Sunday, September 28, 2014

On exhibit: Deborah Zlotsky, Ward Jackson, and Yoshiaki Mochizuki

In this post:

DEBORAH ZLOTSKY  at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, through October 11
WARD JACKSON  at Minus Space, through October 25
YOSHIAKI MOCHIZUKI  at Marlborough Chelsea, through October 11 

Autumn in NY is off to a bountiful start with numerous exhibits featuring the many guises of abstraction. At its most superficial level, the thread that ties these three exhibits together is quite simple: I am enthralled by the work. But digging deeper, each artist reflects a clarity of vision along with a devotion to craft, and each artist's work reflects a distinctive approach to abstraction that incorporates elements of geometric forms.

Deborah Zlotsky: It happened, but not to you (Kathryn Markel Fine Arts,through October 11) features eight knock-out paintings chock full of muscular volumetric forms that are stacked and torqued through space. Zlotsky's constructions appear at once massive and floating, which sometimes twist open to reveal hollowed out interiors. These trapezoidal masses are anchored to one another, yet seem ready to separate and hurtle off with a gentle shove. A dynamic unfolding permeates Zlotsky's paintings, unlike much hard-edged geometric abstraction.

DEBORAH ZLOTSKY    A tricky subject, 2014     48x48 oil on canvas   (image courtesy KMFA)

detail from A tricky subject
DEBORAH ZLOTSKY   Mermaid thoughts, 2014   60x72   oil on canvas  (image courtesy KMFA)

detail from Mermaid thoughts
DEBORAH ZLOTSKY   The Inundation, 2014    48x48 inches     oil on canvas    (image courtesy KMFA)
detail from The Inundation

Zlotsky's palette is replete with assertive colors and burly forms, combined with fantastical compositions and a painterly approach.  A close examination of the paintings reveals planes painted with subtly modulated hues, as well as surfaces rich with drips and dings--elements that show the history of the making. Additionally, the robust forms are occasionally punctuated by tender pictorial elements (easy to miss from the distance)-- a delicate glass tube in one spot, or a needle-like mass in another

In her statement, Zlotsky states that things ordinary and familiar (from her surroundings or memory) are the starting point for each painting. Through a process that she describes as "accumulation and revision, accidents repeatedly redirect me, blurring my understanding of the differences between accident and intention, memory and history."

To see more work from this exhibit, click here.

Ward Jackson: Black & White Diamonds 1960s (Minus Space, through October 25) focuses  on his black and white, geometric compositions on diamond-shaped canvases and also includes a series of sketchbook pages.
In contrast with Zlotsky's colorful and compositionally complex paintings, Jackson's work elevates the power of austerity. The surface of these paintings is unarticulated, consistent with Jackson's overall minimalist approach. Elegantly installed in arrays that reflect pages from Jackson's sketchbooks, these paintings demonstrate his methodical exploration of minimalist compositions working variously with balance, symmetry, and pattern.   All photos in this section, courtesy of Minus Space.

Installation view,   WARD JACKSON Black & White Diamonds 1960s  (photos courtesy of Minus Space)
WARD JACKSON   Interchange V, 1963    34 x 34 inches   acrylic on canvas

WARD JACKSON  Untitled (Studies for Reverse), circa 1963-64     4 x 6 inches    graphite on paper

WARD JACKSON   Untitled, 1966   17x17 inches   acrylic on canvas
Installation view      WARD JACKSON Black & White Diamonds 1960s 

Jackson described his work during the early 1960s (from the press release for the exhibit): "The diamond shape (or square on end) has the meditative power of a mandala and expands in a way that an ordinary square does not, since the measurement of the diameter across the center is wider than any of the outer or peripheral edges."   Additionally, by rotating an inherently stable form and balancing the compositions on the tip, Jackson offers us compositions that are both refined and dynamic.

The inclusion of sketchbook pages is an additional treat because we can see how Jackson conceptualized this series and then selected specific compositions to develop into paintings. 

To see more work from this exhibit, click here.

Yoshiaki Mochizuki: Grey Noise (Marlborough Chelsea, through October 11) is a gem of a show that invites quiet contemplation. Meticulously constructed with many layers of gesso, clay, graphite and palladium leaf, these intimate compositions (several as small as 10.5 x 10.5 inches) offer an indeterminate and ever-changing viewing experience. Several of these pieces appear as a field with hints of an underlying grid, while others are developed with layers of lines that form overlapping planes and simple geometries.

Limited to black, white, gray and silver, the heavily burnished surfaces of these panels appear very matte from the distance. But moving in closer or when viewed from an angle, the surfaces shimmer and reflect innumerable specks of light. Step closer still and you see that the surface is rich with tightly packed incised lines. The areas that had appeared as a dull white actually have a highly polished silvery sheen flecked with bubbles and imperfections.

YOSHIAKI MOCHIZUKI  Untitled, 1/31, 2014   14 x 14 inches    gesso on board, clay, palladium leaf
detail of Untitled, 1/31
YOSHIAKI MOCHIZUKI  Untitled, 6/10/13, 2013   14 x 14 inches    gesso on board, clay, palladium leaf
same panel seen from an angle

YOSHIAKI MOCHIZUKI  Untitled, 7/2, 2014   14 x 14 inches    gesso on board, clay, palladium leaf
The process of layering and polishing, incising the lines, and the repeated reworking of the surface carries through into the experience of viewing Mochizuki's work -- we see one thing, it changes, we look away and it changes once again. 

To see more work from this exhibit, click here.