Friday, April 25, 2008

The Tenuous Universe

Last week I attended the E32 art series, hosted by Linda Griggs, despite some deep forebodings, based upon past unfortunate experiences with arts groups that met at caf├ęs on the Lower East Side. I am very pleased to report that the past unfortunate experiences were NOT repeated; on the contrary, it is my sober conclusion that this event was far superior, in both content and attitude, to the Armory Fair. At least, I had a lot more fun there.

I was particularly struck by the paintings of Barbara Friedman, which at first sight appeared to be mere blurred photo-depictions, but upon deeper inspection, proved at once more painterly and more metaphysical. The physical world is indeed an illusion, resolving momentarily out of linear time, then sliding away again.

'Ferris Wheel,' Barbara Friedman, 36"x 27", 2006

A salient feature of her style is the bright, almost fluorescent underpainting, which is allowed to glow through the image at key points, intimating the existence of an otherworldly light penetrating into this one.

'The Garden of the Fitzi-Continis, 45"x 60", 2005

They manage to be romantic, melancholic and downright creepy, all at the same time.

'Yellow Splashes,' 36"x 84", 2006

Barbara says that she usually starts out with a specific image in mind, but often her original plan is completely obliterated by the time she is finished. Her work has been compared to Richter, of course, but has a warmth and depth that Richter's lacks.

Then this week, as if my cup weren't already overflowing, I discovered the work of Judith Simonian, through my critique group. Lo! Another rich, vivid, metaphysical painter.

'Twin Boats,' 36"x 48",acrylic, mixed media, collage on canvas, Judith Simonian

Judy told me that she envied people who had had a formal art education in painting technique; I countered that no painting technique was taught at my school, and that her work did not seem to be suffering for the lack of it. I have not been to her studio, but spent a good half an hour on her website.

'Crossing II,' 2007, 42"x 62", mixed media/collage and acrylic on canvas

Again, it seems to me that her work evokes a radiant but fractured world, where physical events and objects are continuously obliterated by light and color, transcending the passage of time.

'Twin Plateaux,' mixed media/collage and acrylic on canvas, 44"x 82"

But maybe that's just what I'm bringing to it. ;-)


Anonymous said...

That Barbara Friedman painting of a ferris wheel is gorgeous. Reminds me or early Gerhard Richter, only much, much nicer.

k said...

Beautiful. Glowing.

anna said...

I love Judith Simonian's painting.
That is beautiful.