Saturday, January 22, 2005

Painting Senses: Oli Shivonen @ sandra gering gallery

Walking down 22nd Street after a particularly grueling game of NYC basketball at Chelsea Piers, I stopped to see a group of paintings that had attracted my eye. Those same eyes rolled up inside my head as I took in these vaguely familiar (as in “Oh No, not more repetitive DULL and hackneyed minimalist rip-off paintings”) hard-edged, square color-field paintings in the vein of the “Homage to the Square” series by Josef Albers.

I almost did a quick about-face like the one I do whenever some fool turns on a Powerpoint slide show at a trade show but then I stopped dead in my tracks. BOOM! POP! Zap! My eyes were hyper-stimulated and my cynical self dropped away in the face of the sheer electric kool-aid acid test overload in my optic nerves. These paintings were, in fact, the real deal. Who was this guy? When were they painted?

Turns out, Oli Shiven was a student of Albers (he had been to the mountain) and these were the received wisdom passed on to us. Painted in the late seventies, these paintings were alive with kinetic energy and infinite space to spare. Reproduced images can’t compare to seeing these paintings up close and personal, take my word for it. Rare are the paintings that can to bring you to your senses.

In looking back on the 3x3 series in 1979, Sihvonen felt that he had "explored the notions of multi-temporality: Flow, rhythm, beat, growth... etc., and found that these different manifestations of temporal phenomena could co-exist within an art work." This analysis perfectly describes the experience of viewing these dynamic canvases.
-from the sandra gering gallery

Next on my list is the Josef and Annni Albers show at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

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