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Abstraction in Brooklyn in November


Odetta The first of three stand-out abstraction shows in Brooklyn this month is Spatial Intelligence (through 11/9) at Odetta Gallery which brings together various works suggestive of planer space. The largest of these is also the most kinetic; swirling and cascading rectilinear shapes in colored pencil and acrylic by Jersey City based artist James Pustorino. These mosaic-like works (think exploding stained glass windows) make smart use of the translucent paper substrate, pulling the viewers eye from positive to negative shape. Nearby the works of Ryan Sarah Murphy take layered cardboard and painted foam core to a science-fictional realm, implying floating space stations and architectural constructs. The bas-relief of Murphy's work is answered in three dimensions by artist Thomas Lendvai, who shows plywood box "sketches" atop wood tables in the center gallery. Inside are colorful thread 'walls' which double as proposals for large-scale gallery installations; kinder, gentler bungee cord Serra's that cajole viewers through space. Echoing these cubes are the Drift oil on Mylar paintings of Steven Baris, in which clusters of polygonal forms float quietly on graphic, colorful fields.

The sweep of abstract concerns in Spatial Intelligence (volume, dimension, scale) finds kindred spirit at Storefront Ten Eyck within Abstraction and It’s Discontents (through 11/23), a 20-artist survey that successfully asserts the premise that abstraction within contemporary painting takes on myriad form and temperament. Motley by necessity, the show finds two of it's most emblematic artists hanging side by side; Sara Jones and Marc Cheetham. Jones' acrylic painting of floating Persian rugs playfully alludes to pictorial representation as illusory exercise while adjacent, four small color-blocked shapes on burlap by Cheetham float, rug like, and rich in saturated color and rough-hewn texture. Paul Corio and Jeff Fichera offer two brilliant hard edge meditations on the physiological confines of seeing and the always exceptional Miriam Cabessa offers a work that glows like a Color Field Tequila Sunrise. A painting by Sharon Butler both opens and closes the show, appropriately indicating the abstract qualities of human communication, via paint, torn T-shirt message, and corporate logos.

Microscope Lastly, a bold mention must be given to the solo show Enfolding by Allison Somers (through 11/17) at Microscope Gallery, not because Ms. Somers is an abstract artist per se, but rather because she employs photo-based processes that allude, abstractly and forcefully, to light, time, and the human surround. Here large fabric panel works have been folded, dyed, and unfurled with titles ("walking in the forest," "swimming laps") that might hail from activities with durations akin to those of fabric dying or exposing a photo. The resultant works, like unbraided hair, seem to ripple and shimmer, suggesting sunlight reflecting off water (attributes made more prominent from their flag-like and swaying, ceiling installation). This Thoreau-esque tableau is complemented by two clusters of birch logs and branches, pulled from Upstate New York and treated with blue Cyanotype. Entitled "Unnatural Surroundings" the artist here exploits the tensions between photography's damaging chemicals and it's historical high-minded focus on nature (re. Ansel Adams or Imogen Cunningham). Note the clever interplay of photographic process atop wood, which is paper pre-processed. The natural element of salt figures prominently in six small photograms which, despite their scale, are as searing and brilliant as fireworks. Here abstraction yields from a complex mixture of intention and chance, process and simplicity. The prints are achingly beautiful; celestial fields of light, line, and shape. I think, on it's best days, the universe is as wonderful as these...but far away, in outer space or deep within, on a cellular level; abstractions just beyond the un-aided eyes ability to appreciate. See, we need telescopes, and microscopes, and great artists for that.