Vibrant and Varied Works on Paper

At_It_hrbacek.jpgWinter Salon: Works on Paper Björn Ressle Gallery Björn Ressle has had galleries in Stockholm, Bogota, and now New York, specializing in abstract, minimal, and conceptual art. When I asked him the theme of his current exhibition, he responded "nepotism" with a knowing smile. I like that, the straightforwardness, the honesty -- and when you look at the roster of names, which include Carl Andre, George Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, John Cage, George Condo, Neil Jenny, Alex Katz, Sol Lewitt, Dennis Oppenheim, Dorothea Rockburne, Robert Ryman, Richard Tuttle, and more, you can't help but be impressed. In the exhibition, which is displayed salon-style throughout a relatively small gallery space that happens to have 13-foot-high walls, you can easily see how full a life this gallerist/curator has lead. But it's not just name artists on display here -- there are excellent examples by both known and less known artists. Carl Andre's (1964) xerox print of "BLACKPLANEBLACKPLANEBLACKPLANEBLACK" is a perfect example of the quality of art by a well-known artist in this exhibition. Working solely with text, the artist switched the sequence in every fourth line of type, resulting in one pattern, while a second rhythm emerges as each "A" lines up vertically. This word, sound and pattern play, and what it brought to mind is remarkably mind-expanding and numbing at the same time. On the other end of the "Ism" spectrum is a charcoal-and-pastel drawing, "Drummer," executed in 1982 by George Baselitz. In his typical upside-down Neo-Expressionist fashion, Baselitz records in malignant marks the figure of a man suspended and stupefied. Lithographs by Joseph Beuys done in 1975 titled "Drawings for Codices Madrid by Leonardo da Vinci" features a cautious line of figurative abstraction, while a pencil drawing by John Cage titled "Ryoanji drawing 10R/6" is a network of scribbles that are so lightly applied one could see the effects of his pulsing heart on his hand. Robert G. Edelman looks to begin with automatically painted works on paper which he then tears up and reassembles. A simple technique with marvelous results that reminds me of the effects of a collage and the work of Michael Anderson. Mary Hrbacek finds her muse in tree forms, most often gnarly, rugged ones that seem ages old and wise. Her approach is to render them almost in silhouette, leaving small touches of subtle light and line to bring out the twists and turns in the form. With this comes a personification, a liveliness of the subject that defies the two-dimensionality of the media. Even in the areas of paper left untouched, Hrbacek -- whose "At It" is pictured at the top of this page -- reaches great aesthetic strength and magic. Of the three Alex Katz drawings offered here, I found "Suzette" (2007) to be particularly stunning. It is easy to see the great level of draftsmanship Katz has displayed his entire career, while I found it particularly interesting to see crop lines the artist made across the bottom third of the drawing -- which one assumes would indicate the edge of a composition for a forthcoming painting. Ha_Rhin_KimHa Rhin Kim's three acrylic-on-mylar paintings of flower-like forms are incredibly detailed and wonderfully colorful ("Orgone No. 1", right). When Björn Ressle noticed I was looking at these works intensely and carefully, he whispered in my ear that the artist takes her inspiration and her lines from pornography she finds on the internet. This immediately reminded me of what some have said about the sexual content of the work of Georgia O'keeffe, who some say painted flowers to symbolize the vagina. Robert C. Morgan's painted triptych "Pasolini Poems" (2005) is both weighty and buoyant. Painting over what I assume is a poem by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975) written in charcoal by the artist, Morgan adds an atmosphere of gray, white, and red in expressive swishes of paint. There is some controversy as to who Pasolini was politically -- did he react, or did he revolt? I have this same thinking when I look at Morgan's triptych here, which is very open-ended and bold. Untitled, "December 7th 2008" (2008), a graphite-on-paper drawing by Erik Oost, suggests something quite different. Here, the artist uses mechanical tools to create perfect concentric circles and straight, radiating lines that cover with thick layers of soft, dark graphite the entire surface of the paper. The implied perspective and the mood created is remarkable. Dorothea Rockburne's offerings are wonderful observations in mathematics and astronomy. Looking at these works, I was reminded of the early days of Solomon R. Guggenheim's museum (The Museum of Non-Objective Painting), when artist and art adviser, Hilla Rebay was at the center of its collection selections, and artists such as Rudolf Bauer had similar thoughts in shaping his symbolic aesthetic. Robert_Ryman_untitled "Untitled" (1958), a gouache by Robert Ryman executed on the back of a piece of wallpaper, is the show-stopper (left). The form, the perspective, the flatness, and the use of the date and his last name as pivotal compositional elements all come together to make the most memorable piece in the show. I was also very impressed by Joan Waltemath's art, and her continued journey through the Fibonacci Theory with her two works on paper, which command the space they are placed in. A wonderful exhibit that I wish all of you reading this review can see. The show will be on view through January 17th, 2009. - D. Dominick Lombardi Björn Ressle Gallery 16 East 79th Street New York, NY 10075 Tuesday - Friday 10 am - 6 pm Saturday 10 am - 5 pm dom.jpgD. Dominick Lombardi is an artist with representation in Kasia Kay Art Projects and in Chicago, Van Brunt Gallery in Beacon, NY, and ADA gallery in Richmond, VA; a writer with Sculpture, Sculpture Review, DART, and NYARTS; and an independent curator.