Previous: You Say "Abolish Public Arts Funding" Like It's a Bad Thing (2)

Next: Practice is Philosophy (1)

The Annals of Art Bollocks: Julia Berkman at Frederic Snitzer Gallery

Post #1578 • November 27, 2012, 12:35 PM • 1 Comment

Captain! The reflexive capacitors won't sustain warp-nine speeds for much longer!

Fredric Snitzer Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Edge of Sunshine, a solo exhibition of paintings by Julia Berkman.

For her first exhibition at the gallery, Julia Berkman presents a selection of small to mid-size acrylic and oil paintings on canvas.

The works in the exhibition combine the formal tropes of Minimalist abstraction with more overt painterly signifiers to claim a space between painting as a vehicle of presence and painting as a tool of visibility.

The general material mechanics of painting are visible as empathic reminders of the body and of the medium's now-gone reflexive capacity. The marks assert the characteristics and limitations of the brush in imperfect contours and uneven applications of paint, retaining evidence of paint's once-liquid status.

The formal elements are reduced, often simple linear or rectilinear compositions on a color field, and differentiated through subtle calibrations of hue and chromatic intensity. The shapes themselves are more or less rectilinear and serially repeated in compositions that loosely adhere to the support's basic rectilinearity. These shaky edges and just-off geometries trade in the chance for any Albersian glow or deductible structure - Modernism's optical payload - for a counterintuitive, inefficient form of commercial visibility.

By employing the tropes of presence and visibility, but botching their delivery, Berkman's paintings lampoon attempts by both the artistic avant-garde and commercial interests to instrumentalize painting as a set of material procedures and seek to reinstate the medium's status as secondary to exterior ideological edifices.

This from her September 2012 exhibition at the gallery. What's striking is that the Watertown, MA artist—whose work, I should note, is often likable —describes her own rationale in wholly other terms.

The paintings I am making now are visual reflections of my internal emotional world. Although I am not using a still life as a source, my visual vocabulary of color, touch and line is inextricably linked to everything that I have seen, thought and experienced. Abstraction allows me to explore the complex and layered elements of my experience. I am interested in what cannot be expressed in words, the fuzzy terrain between foreground and background, presence and absence, volume and void.

Which may be a little on the cheesy side, but its heart is in the right place. Brava for using art to express what cannot be expressed in words. One wonders why the gallery feels obliged to market Berkman using such comparatively tortured and disingenuous language. Even if one could forgive the press release for being mannered, it appears to get at least one point wrong—if anything, the exterior ideological edifices, whatever those may be, are secondary to the artist's medium, not the other way around. And "inefficient form of commercial visibility" sounds like she's trying to make pictures that will sell and she's not doing a very good job of it. With friends like these, who need enemies?

Reference: David Thompson's seminal article on art bollocks.

Comment

1.

Walter Darby Bannard

November 28, 2012, 11:11 PM

Man, you scared me! I read "tropes" and "signifiers" and thought, "Good Grief! They're waterboarding Franklin!" I was about to get up a SWAT team and rescue you from the Pomoranians!

Offers

Other Projects

Legal

Design and content ©2003-2014 Franklin Einspruch except where otherwise noted