Thomas Nozkowski at PaceWildenstein (25th Street)
534 West 25th Street
April 4 – May 3, 2008
Thomas Nozkowski (one of my favorite painters) makes solely small scale paintings in oil, allowing infinite variety to emerge from tight constraints. He works on many paintings at once and often returns to them again and again over a period of years. This exhibit features approximately 40 paintings made over the past three years. The oil on linen on panel paintings and oil on paper paintings on view in this exhibition measure 22 √ó 28″ and 22 √ó 30″ respectively.‚ÄúNozkowski utilizes patterns, broken grids, and all the conventions we associate with traditional painting genres (landscape, portraiture, history paintings, Arcadian pastorals), cartoons (head-like shapes and figural allusions ranging from blobs to beasts), biomorphic shapes, and geometric abstraction (grids and hard-edge shapes that exist between rounded lozenges and puzzle-like sections)‚Äìall to arrive at a place where a multifaceted figure and complex ground embrace each other,‚Äù writes poet and critic, John Yau, in an essay entitled ‚ÄúThe Secular Heretic,‚Äù published in the exhibition catalogue.
James Siena at PaceWildenstein (22nd Street)
545 West 22nd Street
March 28 – April 26, 2008
James Siena‚Äôs newest work, completed in 2006 and 2007, includes approximately 20 enamel paintings on aluminum or copper and 60 works on paper created with mixed media, including ink, graphite, gouache, color pencil, and Cont√© crayon on paper or board. This exhibition includes Siena‚Äôs signature abstract paintings but also debuts a new working method, as evidenced by the drawings on view. Known for densely patterned paintings, gouaches and drawings generated by the artist‚Äôs adherence to algorithmic systems, Siena has, in recent years, begun to vary the rigidity of those systems and the rigidity with which those systems are implemented. The result has been works which appear more chaotic and most recently, and surprisingly, a series of drawings where the twisting lines and forms transform into tortured faces of old men and women.
In the spirit of Art21‚Äôs mission to reveal artists‚Äô studio processes and how they conceive of and explain their work, check out these interviews with Nozkowski and Siena, published in the Brooklyn Rail, both with fellow abstract painter (and writer) Chris Martin.
And finally, if you ever wanted to feel like you were inside an geometric abstraction, try playing Planarity.
The goal is to arrange the vertices so that no edges overlap. I can promise you hours of fun.