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

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Dan Flavin at David Zwirner

David Zwirner is presenting the exhibition “Corners, Barriers and Corridors” at the 20th street gallery. This show presents the work of Dan Flavin from the late 1960’s into the 1970’s. The artist is famous for his use of fluorescent light constructions to define geometry within a space.

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“Untitled (to Sonja)”, 1969

Much of Flavin’s work involved the use of straight lines and grids. I was particularly happy to see a work that was all about circles.

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“Untitled (to a man,George McGovern) 2” ,1972

Situated in the corner of the room “Untitled (to a man, George McGovern) 2” from 1972 is made up of a series of columns of circles of light. They descend in order from a height of ten circles to a single circle. The juxtaposition of the curves of the circles with the straight edges of the corner space and the placement of the circles with in a grid creates an interesting tension. The 45 degree angle produced by the descending columns gives the illusion that the circles are rolling down the construction. Dan Flavin is known as a minimalist and this work uses only the most basic elements, circles within an environment of straight lines, but the impact is impressive.

Susan Happersett

“Evidence of Absence” at ZieherSmith Gallery

The ZieherSmith Gallery in NYC current group exhibition is titled “Evidence of Absence”. Two of the artists in the show create work that uses mutated repetition of geometric shapes.

Ryan Mrozowski

Ryan Mrozowski makes wood blocks that are coated in acrylic and vinyl then they are held together in a rectangular frame. This creates a patterned plane or a 2D tiling pattern from 3D blocks. His assemblages give the illusion that all of the blocks started out the same size and shape, but they have been squished together and distorted by the limits of the frame capacity.

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Courtesy Ryan Mrozowski and ZieherSmith New York
“Dark Blue, Red, Maroon, Green III” 2014

In Mrozowski’s “Dark, Blue, Maroon, Green III”, rows of isosceles triangles appear to have been compressed into a frame that is too small, distorting the geometry of what could have been a very repetitive geometric pattern. As the viewer I get the feeling that the order we associate with mathematical patterning has been disturbed and mutated. So it is the imaginary starting point of this pattern before it was compacted that holds the mathematical connections. Although the wood blocks are solid, there is the false appearance of plasticity that hold the memory of the geometrical starting point.

Adam Winner

Adam Winner creates minimalist paintings with a hand-made edge. Instead of brushes he uses palette knives, instead of a smooth solid canvas he pieces together torn linen canvas. He uses the rough edges of the linen to create straight lines. Winner is interested in the Golden Section and incorporates this into the proportions of his work.

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Courtesy Adam Winner and ZieherSmith Gallery New York
Untitled 2014

Winner’s untitled oil painting above features a series of twelve concentric rectangles (including the outer edge of the canvas). This is a theme that has been explored by Minimalist artists including Frank Stella, but Winner’s unique technique breaths new life into the subject matter. Earlier interpretations of the parallel lines of concentric rectangles relied of the slickness of clean and accurate lines. This painting has rough not quite perfect lines created from the torn edges of canvas strips. I am always looking for work like Winner’s that revisits how mathematics has been used before, but in some way alters the process.

– Susan Happersett

Steven Naifeh – Found in Translation

The Leila Heller Gallery is currently exhibiting painting and sculpture by Steven Naifeh. Many people will recognize the name Steven Naifeh. He is a world renowned art historian and academic who has published biographies on Jackson Pollock and Vincent Van Gogh. He is also an accomplished artist whose work is inspired by historic Middle Eastern architecture. Growing up in a diplomatic family, Naifeh was raised both in the USA and the Middle East. Building patterns with basic geometric shapes in repetition, Naifeh  assembles complicated images. Using a computer to calculate the specifics, the shaped canvases  and copper plated steel elements fit together with precision. The paint on the canvases has been applied using tape and a sprayer. This is a technique popular with Minimalist artists. To me these works however are a step away from Minimalism with their emphasis on pattern as it relates to architecture.
In “Cyrene IX:Shimmering Sky” four identical kite-shaped quadrilaterals, each with two 90 degree angles make up each square. There is a smaller square opening within each large square. This puzzle-like painting is quite complex and visually satisfying. This is an artistic accomplishment considering that all of the pieces have the same shape and size,  they have just been just repeated and rotated.

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Steven Naifeh – Cyrene IX:Shimmering Sky – 2010
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery

“Saida XXXVI” is a large scale copper-plated steel sculpture. It is composed of individual prisms with square top faces. The prisms in the outermost ring have the largest square top faces, but are the shortest. Each consecutive ring of prisms have smaller top faces but are taller, in the 5th and center ring the prisms have the smallest square top faces and are the tallest. This sculpture takes up most of the floor space in one of the gallery rooms. Gallery patrons  interact with this structure by walking around the circle of prisms. “Saida XXXVI” for me was the piece in the show that most closely aligns itself mathematically with Middle Eastern architectural elements. Naifeh has created an elegant blossom using only a collection of simple square faced prisms. Many artists cite historic buildings and decoration as their inspiration, but very few have been as successful as Naifeh in making these connections seem contemporary. His process of fabrication and his choice of materials bring the beauty and essence of Middle Eastern architecture into the aesthetics of the 21st Century.

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Steven Naifeh – Saida XXXVI – 2014
Picture courtesy of the artist and the gallery