Painting

Johnnie Winona Ross at Stephen Haller Gallery

THE LOVELINESS OF JOHNNIE WINONA ROSS’ paintings elude translation into either reproduction or verbal description. Their latticed structure reproduces but not the subtleties of the guiding hand behind it. Compositional clarity and order can be conveyed only at the cost of intimacy with the small, exquisite freedoms that loosen the architecture to let in air and light. For all the apparent minimalism of his compositions, built on the familiar grid, there is nothing minimal in the translucence of his surfaces. The hard-won radiance of them—tinted with spare bands of pale color—suggests that contemplative emptiness sought by mystics in abnegation and forbearance.  Continue Reading
After Eden with Derrick Guild

PRICK HUNDREDS OF CONTEMPORARY PAINTINGS and the air goes out of them. Prick a fine botanical and it bleeds. With Derrick Guild’s florilegium of oversized, counterfeit botanical paintings, a prick gets you a some of both: a little blood and a bit more air than is needed. Blood is the best part. The lifeblood of historical botanicals flows from an obligation to be both true and beautiful, a transcendent unit. This dual nature of botanical art — scientific in purpose, aesthetic in conception and execution—is turned on its head by Guild. Continue Reading
Joseph Haske's Scrolling Images

I FIRST SAW JOSEPH HASKE’S PAINTING nine years ago at Sears Payton in New York. I have been following his exhibitions ever since. The simplicity of his imagery, conveyed through richly developed surfaces, apppealed to me. Surface quality is, quite possibly, the most difficult aspect of painting. Here was a painter who had husbanded his craft to serve the delicacy of his chosen forms. The loveliest of them allude to natural forms or to the kind of decorative patterning that appears on Buddhist thangkas or in manuscript marginalia. Continue Reading
Chapel Americana

THE ARTS ARE AN ENDLESS SOURCE OF CHEAP GRACE. Like the ancient Celtic myth of Dagda’s cauldron, it is the pot that never empties. The most recent ladleful of pop spirituality is Dean Radinovsky’s Chapel Americana, a roughly 13 by 17 foot warehouse version of one of the sacred caves the artist had seen on a trip to Crete. Radinovsky completed his site-specific meditation space in 2008. His faux chapel is lined with formless abstract paintings, as vague and spacey as the word spirituality when it shows up in press releases. Continue Reading