As well as the numerous group show that I wrote about several days ago, several one-person shows from the Lower East Side caught my attention; Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects featured the work of a young painter, Eleanor Ray, who makes exquisite small paintings of small moments, mostly interiors and cityscapes. Their is a sensitivity of touch and delicate light that brings to mind Corot’s small plein-air paintings. But, Ray, does not belong to the school of trying to revive the lost glory of painting. Rather her work appears to spring from the simple pleasure of seeing and painting the rhythms and patterns that she finds in the world around her, for instance the way a grating or window frame divides the space beyond it into an abstraction of geometric and occasional organic shapes. It would not surprise me to find that she has Mondrian on her mind as much as the paragons of representational painting.
At the bottom end of the Lower East Side, the paintings of Daniel Rios Rodriguez are on view at Sargent’s Daughters, 179 East Broadway. These paintings are also mostly small , though slightly less so than Ray’s. The tone is a kind of comic grief. The subject; skulls, lemons, weedy grass, an old tennis shoe, speak to small moments of pain, loss and inevitable entropy, but with a sense of humor. Rodriguez scratch- draws into the painting creating a graphic quality like the drawing in comic books. He also places collages pieces of linen and tee-shirt into the paintings, which on one hand opens the painting space back up, but can also seem a little self-conscious about not being straight forward painting. Among my favorites is the warm autumnal feeling Dig A Pony after one of the last Beatles songs, from Let It Be. Weeds and insects are scratch-drawn into an almost entirely white impasto relieved by a brief rainbow colored lump bottom center and a bright but small black sun. The feeling of longing and loss, like last return of summery weather and impending winter, is palpable.
Daniel Rios Rodriguez, Dig A Pony, Oil, flashe, linen and canvas on linen, 2014, 9 x 11″
Around the corner at 29C Ludlow Stat Blackston Gallery, are paintings and drawings by the abstract painter Patrick Keesey. The drawings in particular reflect a process that while initiated by observation of nature are more about the feel of the act seeing rather than a description of what is seen. The paintings are a built up from squiggly marks accumulating into spatial clusters, apparently more process driven than the drawings. Though the paintings recall the built up loops of Jim Lutes’ paintings, a calligraphic version of Guston’s early 50s abstractions and the poetic blurts of Twombly, they remain Keesey’s by dint of their experiential basis.
Patrick Keesey, Wiley’s Fugue, 2014, oil on linen, 26 x 22″
Just opened at Pablo’s Birthday on Orchard is Pius Fox- We Expected Something Better Than Before. Fox is a young German painter whose work usually lands on the abstract side of identifiable reference, though it is clear, that like Keesey, he is taking his visual cues from the world around him, in this instance the studio; windows, books and leaning paintings among the more frequent starting points. The paintings are mostly quite small and conflate sharp edges and a painterly hand. They are sensitive and meditative in feeling, a bit of a cross between Richard Diebenkorn and Agnes Martin. Perhaps the paintings mostly stay too much within a narrow range in emotional tone; but, Fox is certainly a painter to watch.
Pius Fox, Untitled, 2014, oil on canvas, 30 x 22 cm.