Eleanor White at Matteawan Gallery

I have written about art in a variety of mediums,  but Eleanor White’s recent work on paper currently on display at the Matteawan Gallery in Beacon, NY is probably the most unique. White incorporates crushed egg shells and wood ash into paint resulting in a beautiful but gritty texture. Minimalism and 1960’s and 1970’s design are references for the artist and lead to the geometric qualities of the work.

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“Untitled” 2015 eggshells, wood ash and paint on paper
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

In this first drawing, “Untitled” from 2015, there is the obvious reflection symmetry with the line of symmetry running vertically through the center of the work. There is also the interesting visual effect of the thickness of the parallel bands of color. Narrow vertical section blend into thicker horizontal bands.

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“Untitled” 2015 Eggshells wood ash and paint on paper
Picture courtesy of the gallery and the artist

This next drawing is all about circles. It features a top layer of a 2 by 5 grid of slightly overlapping sets of 4 concentric circles. Each circle composed of dots of ground egg shells. The inner circles have 13 dots, then 20, 27 and finally 34 dots in the outer circle. The underlay of circles is a 3 by 6 grid of solid circle. The 2 by 5 grid packs elegantly on top of the 3 by 6 grid. It is an excellent illustration of how the proportions 3:6 relate to the proportions of 2:5.

White’s work has a lot of geometric and numerical mathematical elements. There is also a more subtle theme in the shapes of the tiny bits of crushed egg shells. The original oval 3D shape of the egg has been fractured and spread across the flat plane of the paper. But if you look closely you can still see tiny bits of the curved planes. These optical remnants of the original eggs give these drawings a complex surface that is inspired.

Susan Happersett

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Gregory Hayes at Nancy Margolis Gallery

The Nancy Margolis Gallery in Chelsea is currently exhibiting Gregory Hayes’ paintings. These works begin with a graphite grid drawn onto the canvas. The artist places a drop of paint into each grid space. The pigment is applied using a plastic squeeze bottle filled with layers of different colors of acrylic paint.

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Untitled (BYR)
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

In “Untitled (BYR)” Hayes uses the square grids to build a work based on concentric squares. The mix of color in the droplet of paint changes to create an order 4 rotational symmetry. These paintings have aesthetic properties on two scales. Although Hayes consciously layers the paint in the squeeze bottles, the micro environment of the swirling colors in the droplets have a free flowing quality. By painstakingly applying drops in each grid space and adjusting the colors using rules the geometric macro environment of the concentric squares is much more rigid. The contrast between these two aesthetic qualities highlights the distinction between looking closely at a small element of the painting and seeing the work in its entirety.

Susan Happersett

Josiah McElheny at Andrea Rosen Gallery

The mathematics used in the study of crystallography relies heavily on geometry. Josiah McElheny’s “Crystalline Prism Painting” series – on view at Andrea Rosen Gallery – offers a unique expression of the visual qualities of crystal forms.

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Josiah McElheny – “Crystalline Prism Painting III” – 2015

The painting in this series are a type of shadow boxes with a smooth glass over the 3-D press-molded polished glass crystals. This construction offers a foreground, the glass, a middle ground, the crystal sculpture elements, and as a background the black painted board. The glass crystals are both the subject of the artwork, as well as the physical material or medium of the work. Out of the frame they would be beautiful objects but by displaying them on a black background and hanging them on the wall the artist invites the viewer to look at them more closely. McElheny’s work showcases the geometries and symmetries of crystals.

Susan Happersett

Richard Long at Sperone Westwater

Richard Long has along career of creating art about nature based on his walks through different landscapes. I saw more recent work last week at Sperone Westwater.

One double height wall in the gallery features a sight-specific giant circular drawing created by the artist by hand, by applying red mud directly to the wall.
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This gallery room is taller than it is wide, so the viewer must look up to see the entire circle. This creates an interesting optical element. Although the circle has a consistent width it appears to be thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top. It is a perfect expression of how geometric appearance can change based on the location of the form and the viewer in space.
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Richard Long’s artistic practice also includes text based work. The visual poem “Mendosa Walking”  incorporates an interesting use of counting and mirror symmetry. The 12-line text has a center column using the two letter word “TO” to join the a word on each side. the number of letters in these words increases by one letter going down the rows. From “A”  “TO” “B” at the top all the way down to “HAPPENSTANCE” “TO”  “CONSEQUENCES”.

Susan Happersett

McArthur Binion at Galerie Lelong

McArthur Binion has an esteemed history working in the realm of abstract art. The exhibition “Re:Mind” at Galerie Lelong features his new work. The artist uses copies of personal documentation, birth certificate, address books, and cuts them down into equal length strips. He mines the textual information from his past. He arranges the strips into vertical and horizontal patterns to create alternating squares within a grid. This becomes the underlying surface over which Binion applies layers of paint stick strokes.

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“dna: sketch: XI”, 2015 oil stick and paper on board

 

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close up of “dna: sketch: XI”, 2015

In the work “dna: sketch: XI” Binion has included geometric elements beyond the use of vertical and horizontal parallel lines. There is an angled rectangular figure.  He has divided the work in half along the vertical center line. The left half of the painting has a darker toned back ground and the rectangle is lighter. On the right side of the painting this is reversed. This use of light and dark splits the rectangles into two trapezoids giving the work another mathematical element with order 2 rotational symmetry.

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“DNA: Black Painting: VI”, 2015, Oil paint stick,graphite, and paper on board

“DNA: Black: VI” also features two trapezoids rotated 180 degree,s but this time they are each centered on their own side of the canvas, with clearer definitions of fore ground and back ground.

McArthur Binion has taken the tenets of 20th century abstract (especially Minimalist) painting and broadened the theme of his work through the use of an underlying grid of personal history.

Susan Happersett