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Report from the Front

Art criticism, sometimes with context, occasional politics. Published in hard copy 2-4 times a year. New shows: "events;" hard copy rates & how to support the online edition: "works."



The class act in Chelsea is "Larry Poons: New Paintings" at Loretta Howard/Danese (through March 2). The show is at Loretta Howard’s gallery, but its upstairs level is now turned over to Danese. It makes perfect sense for this combined gallery to lead off its new existence with a show by Poons, as both galleries have shown his work in the past. And it’s a lovely show, fully abstract, with firmly-applied patterns of many colors, squiggled on with short, wiggly brush strokes or curlicues, classically modernist yet also deeply personal – I don’t know of any other artist who makes marks exactly like these, or has ever done so.

Most of these paintings are “all-over:” the canvas covered with the same imagery from top to bottom, and side to side, but there are also a few with openings in this thicket of colors, and a tendency to loosen up into broader areas of flat color in the higher parts of the canvas. Colors are oftenest floral (or perhaps vegetal or natural would be more appropriate words, anyway not synthetic): peaches and greens most often, but in some cases with deeper colors: blues and purples in the ascendance.

Best is “Barreling” (2012), a smaller horizontal painting (37½ x 86) at the top of the stairs, in Danese territory. Here brushwork is at its most decisive, with a color scheme heavy on blues and crimson, and some flesh colors for accent. Also tops are two paintings on the Howard level of the gallery. One is “Giordano Bruno” (2011), a larger, lighter painting (67¾ x 109¼) with the emphasis on mint green and crimson, but a solid apple-green opening at the top. The other is “The Venetian” (2012), a medium-sized painting (68½ x 78), made with deep blues and greens, and touches of pink and white. Then again, the entire show appeals.

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