ART ON PAPER New York: Pier 36 New York
532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel presents at Art on Paper works by Per Adolfsen, Carlos R. Cardenas, Diana Copperwhite, Susana Guerrero, Ian Hughes, Paco Marcial, Jean-Guerly Petion, Heidrun Rathgeb, Alberto A. Rodriguez, Pedro Vizcaino.
Works on paper have always had a particular appeal of their own, a liminal status in the continuum of physical objects from sculpture to fresco to mural to canvas. Writing in October, the critic Ewa Lajer-Burcharth noted that the medium acquired in the 18th century an altogether different status and meaning: It came to be recognized as an autonomous artistic form; an index of the artist’s personal style; an object of aesthetic contemplation and critical reflection; and, ultimately, a commodity.
Just as the works here display a wide range of styles, media, and approaches, so too do they fit into the various ontological categories suggested by Lajer-Burcharth. That versatility, that plasticity of expressiveness, is in the end the source of their vitality and appeal. With this exhibition, we have a concise summary and vivid snapshot of the aesthetics of our shared moment.
Per Adolfsen’s works on paper are beautiful, expansive landscapes drawn in colored pencil and chalk, with the surety of line and color lending an almost hallucinatory vividness to the vistas pictured. Adolfsen describes his process thus: “Very simple: a man, a pencil and a piece of paper. I go out into my environment every day. I study it and I draw what I see. The sky, the trees, the sea.” The results display the artist’s abiding interest in keeping his artistic practice grounded in the fundamental relationship of eye, mind, and hand.
Carlos Rodríguez Cárdenas’ art is represented in this show by a triptych that features collage and mixed media in a fantasia of sky, flowers, and vintage aeroplanes in jewel-like repeating patterns.
Diana Copperwhite creates vivid gestural abstractions that have a dreamlike intensity. Blurred streaks of multicolored pigment wind across dappled surfaces; the facture is loose and expressive, with something of Helen Frankenthaler’s liquid shimmer to it. Writing in the Brooklyn Rail, Robert R. Shane noted that Copperwhite’s “process and form evoke both a sense of excavation ... her fluid bands of colored light slicing across weathered surfaces viscerally affect the viewer, reminding us that memory is not just an artifact of the past, but an animated phenomenon intensely felt in the present.”
Susana Guerrero creates texts using the ghostly practice of automatic writing — a form of generative occult spiritualism with a rich counter-history in the narratives of North America. “The evil in me” is a Twombly-like palimpsest of extraordinary subtlety and beauty.
Ian Hughes’s works here are from a recent series called “Annuli, Waves, and Other Repetitions”—an apt title. Executed free hand, these serene works combine geometric regularity with a graceful facture, creating rippling patterns of hypnotic beauty. Hughes’s drawings here participate in the practice of formal repetition of line and shape in the service of the enigmatic allure of pure pattern- making.
Paco Marcial’s drawings take off from an indeterminate point somewhere between surrealism and art brut. The dominant image in this series is a floating shape of erratic morphology and dimensionality that hovers over such quotidian tableaux as a wall or a desk; in several the blob-like form is suspended above a plinth with a chair, with Guston-esque objects — bottles, tires — in the foreground. The effect is simultaneously playful and sinister, and highly distinctive.
Jean-Guerly Pétion follows up his potent show Americana Dreaming with more mysterious and erotically charged images of Black women. “Champ Bleu Etrusque” features two figures locked in an enigmatic embrace highlighted against an intense ground of pastel blue. The drawings convey Pétion’s directness of gaze and unabashed intensity with élan.
The Geman painter Heidrun Rathgeb creates luminous and hallucinatory scenes and nightscapes, with precise, jewel-like colors, on small Japanese Hagaki and Etchu in watercolour.
Alberto A. Rodríguez “Prológo” series encompasses lushly printed single-edition artist’s book in two or more volumes, each of which conceals a cunningly crafted negative space sculpture, by which the very nature of a book, its dimensionality, is transmuted into something mysterious. In his “Destruktion” series, Alejandro Rodríguez takes ruins—fragments of real buildings or debris and discarded papers found within them—and constructs sculptures, architectural models of both the sites from which he gathered the materials and imagined landscapes. “Destruktion” a term used by Heidegger, made its way to Alejandro Rodríguez via the writings of Derrida, whose famed attention to the play of binary oppositions plays a role in the artwork: here, we find such an oscillation between absence and presence.
Pedro Vizcaíno creates drawings that explode off the plane in a kinetic whirlwind of color and line. Combining swooping gestural slashes with rough depictions of machines and light bulbs, they have an accelerating velocity and pungent wit that marks them as highly contemporary.