Modernist thinking reaches new levels in the recent paintings of Ron Gorchov. Working within a time-tested format of the concave and rounded, saddle-shaped canvas, Gorchov paints and over paints until his uneven colors and curious shapes echo forward and back. In viewing these works, you may think you see a positive form, then the space around that object or thing moves forward and that original thought recedes like a mirage - it's a mental play between perception and pre-thought. And it is also about the structure behind the surface, where angled, curved stretchers pull the taut, frontally stapled linen tight like a drum -- a surface for the artist to work his colors, often to a very thin, drippy consistency.
I have to say that this is a hard show to encapsulate in words. I could easily fall back on non-objective art, but it's much more than that. There is a formality, a kind of history in the work that would complicate any oversimplification.
The first piece that confronts the viewer is "Serapis" (2008) (pictured above), a massive 13 x 13-foot four-tiered form that confounds reference. There is no landscape, no recognizable content, yet on its surface and in its shape it offers curious modulation and an overpowering mood. I felt like I was experiencing something of great weight and import, but it was so foreign that I could not read it. I suspect that this, at least in part, is what the artist intends - to mystify.
And that mystery is in all the works throughout the show. You think you see something there, but when you look right at it, it changes. I kept going back to certain works that I thought I had a handle on, but my thoughts had changed the second or third time around.
With such works as "Cabaret" (2008) and "Timandra" (2007), I started to see and imagine a female torso -- a silhouette with hips swaying and arms raised -- maybe dancing -- but it was gone.
"Cantina" (2008) and "Chateau D'iF" (2007) have strong architectural elements but it didn't last as the tension, the line, and the weirdness betrayed that.
My favorite piece is "Chase Street Lounge" (2008). It has the most changes in the composition, left clearly visible in ghost lines and faded forms. You can see the thought process in its unfinishedness -- the way the composition slides down and to the left. Faint vertical and horizontal lines offers a grid for placement, yet the resulting shapes and colors seem quite automatic and unrestrained. Simply put, it is a show you have to see for yourself.
I also wanted to make a quick mention of an exhibition across the street from Nicholas Robinson Gallery. At Anton Kern Gallery you will find the mixed media sculptures of Matthew Monahan, which look to be inspired by the art of Marisol and Larry Rivers. With Monahan's art, it is this retro '60s esthetic that really stuck with me. - D. Dominick Lombardi
Ron Gorchov at Nicholas Robinson Gallery
Matthew Monahan at Anton Kern Gallery
Mr. 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.