Saturday, April 21, 2012

Looking Quickly But Deeply

Yesterday was a treat for me when I emerged from working so hard in the studio to make a road trip with my friend Greg Wright for a couple of art visits. It's always worthwhile to come up for air and get enthused by looking at some great work.

Martin Kline, Romantic Nature
Our first stop was the Martin Kline Retrospective at the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, Connecticut. I have seem images of Kline's work in Joanne Mattera's The Art of Encaustic Painting, but this was the first time I saw his work in person. Unfortunately, photography was not permitted so the images here are taken from Kline's website. However, it's impossible to appreciate the beauty and skill of his work unless you see it in person.

Martin Kline, Intimate Universe Revisited, 2010,  48" x 48" x 4", encaustic on panel

Kline's show, Romantic Nature, includes about 75 works, mostly paintings in encaustic. Many of the pieces are absolutely spectacular. There is one tall vertical piece at the entrance to the show painted in a metallic silver or aluminum that appears to be a waterfall of threads falling from the top of the painting and cascading down its length. Greg and I were absolutely in love with it. For artists who paint in encaustic, this show is a must see because we can appreciate the technical skill involved but also how Kline is able to employ that skill in creating truly beautiful works that speak to his fascination with the natural world.

Martin Kline, Eros, 2010, 48" x 48" x 4", encaustic on panel

We enjoyed seeing how Kline is not hung up on making precious works but lets drops and spots of paint stay where they landed surrounding the works and on the edges of panels. Greg and I were unsure that we could let such "blemishes" remain, but they do serve to let viewers into the process of painting -- a messy and often uncontrollable business no matter how much skill you have.

Also really great were Kline's sculptures cast from wax paintings. Even more than the cast parts, I loved the bases and supports that Kline left apparently just as they came from the casting process, with no smoothing of rough edges or manipulating into "art." This rawness contrasted with the skillful building up of was forms was very effective and I thought gave the works an African appearance -- and you know how much that appeals to me!

The museum was selling Kline's book Romantic Nature in the gift shop for $50 or in a special slipcase for $100. It's also available on Amazon for less. If you can't go to the show, you should at least get the book. We were also very pleased to see Joanne Mattera's book prominently displayed right next to Kline's.

The Missing Link
No, of course I'm not saying that Binnie is part of homo sapiens' evolutionary history; I'm just indicating that Greg and I had to link up with Binnie Birstein, our arting pal, before making the trek into New York City. Binnie has just moved to Old Greenwich, CT so that was our next stop, and then the three of us entrained.

A Pop-In to Chelsea
Our ultimate destination was the opening of "Lush Geometry" at DM Contemporary at 29th and Park Avenue, but we detoured first to Chelsea for a quick look at a couple of shows.

Studio shot of Lloyd Martin's Mettere paintings

Lloyd Martin at Stephen Haller Gallery
After trudging all those long Chelsea blocks over to 26th Street, we made it to Stephen Haller's to see Lloyd's show, Mettere (Italian for "put" or "place." Although none of us have ever met him, we felt we knew him somewhat because of his interview on Lynette Haggard's blog. (And by the way, Lynette was supposed to be the fourth member of our little art gang, but could'nt get off work.)

We enjoyed seeing Lloyd's work in person. These pieces seem to be much less about horizontal movement and more about smaller rectangular areas brought into the flow and appearing to move forward or backward in space.

Lloyd Martin, Large Mete, 2010, 84" x 42", oil & mixed media on canvas

Here are two pieces I liked particularly - Large Mete, above - and Shim Series (5) below.

Lloyd Martin, Shim Series (5), 24" x  24", oil & mixed media on canvas

To Be Continued
Uh-oh. I thought this would be a quick post with just a few mentions but instead it's turned into a book. I have to go watch one of my guilty pleasures (America's Next Top Model - which Bonnie is telling me I shouldn't admit to, but what the hey), so I'll continue to post some art highlights tomorrow.

1 comment:

Joanne Mattera said...

Love your "short" post. And so far we are inagreement about all the art (and books) you mentioned.