TAL R at Cheim and Read

TAL R, Cabaret Closed, 2016, pigment & rabbit skin glue on canvas, 78 x 98 inches

Copenhagen based painter TAL R is presenting a group of new works at Cheim and Read, through February 11, 2017. The new work, large scale paintings and small crayon drawings, begin with photographs of facades of random sex shops around the world - some taken by the artist, some sent to him by friends. The paintings are made with raw pigment and rabbit skin glue on rough linen, which creates a unique scumbled surface and sensual vibrant color. These are breathtakingly beautiful pieces that operate as brilliant metaphors for painting -- the frontally of the plane that both seduces with its material beauty and conceals the messy business that goes on "in the back room".

 TAL R, Red Roof, 2016, pigment & rabbit skin glue on canvas

 TAL R, House Tiffany, 2015, pigment & rabbit skin glue on canvas, 98 x 78 inches

 TAL R, Cabaret, 2016, pigment & rabbit skin glue on canvas, 67 x 97 inches

 TAL R, Snow, 2016, pigment & rabbit skin glue on canvas, 67 x 78 inches

TAL R, Keyhole, 2016, pigment & rabbit skin glue on canvas, 94 x 74 inches


Some Good Things From 2016

In what can only be regarded as a tragic year for the world, we were at least fortunate to witness an endless stream of remarkable and momentous exhibitions of visual poetry to give us a glimmer of hope for humanity. Here are just a few of the standouts.

 Eve Aschheim at Lori Bookstein

 Siri Berg at Shirley Fiterman Arts Center

 Meghan Brady and Gideon Bok at Steven Harvey

 Paul Corio at McKenzie

 Stuart Davis at the Whitney

 Pius Fox at Pablo's Birthday

 Ron Gorchov at Vito Schnabel, Palazzo Chupi

 Philip Guston at Hauser and Wirth

 Al Held at Cheim and Read

Carmen Herrera at Lisson and the Whitney

 Heather Hutchison at Winston Wachter 

 Merlin James at Sikkema Jenkins

 William Kentridge at Marian Goodman

 Kerry James Marshall at the Met Breuer

 Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim

John McLaughlin at Van Doren Waxter

 Julie Mehretu at Marian Goodman

 Joan Mitchell at Cheim and Read

 Ed Moses at Albertz Benda

 Doug Ohlson at Washburn

 Stephen Pace at Berry Campbell

 Matt Phillips at Steven Harvey

 Serge Poliakoff at Cheim and Read

 Pipilotti Rist at the New Museum

 Mark Rothko at Pace

 Michal Rovner at Pace

 David Row at Loretta Howard

 Robert Ryman at Dia Chelsea

 Amy Sillman at Sikkema Jenkins

 "Unfinished" at the Met Breuer

 Juan Usle at Cheim and Read

 Ryan Wallace at Susan Inglett

 Stephen Westfall at Lennon Weinberg

Stanley Whitney at the Studio Museum of Harlem

 Thornton Willis at Elizabeth Harris

Terry Winters at Matthew Marks


By Eric Holzman


George Negroponte comes to making art with a pure love of painting. His aim has never been to turn over the apple cart, or in Al Held’s words, reinvent the wheel. As such, he has been compelled to paint his way through various modes and approaches, learning and searching for authenticity and resonance. A few years back GN spent five years in Sweden with his family where he painted in isolation, save the input of his wife Virva Hinnemo, also a wonderful painter. He painted and looked after his family’s needs. After an adult lifetime in close proximity to, or in fact at the very center of the NY art world, this was radical, and a trial of epic proportion.

At GN’s last show at Jason McCoy before leaving on his Swedish adventure, he had already started to dismantle his gestural paintings by tearing up works on paper and reassembling them. The work found a new supercharged, stripped down energy. They were fresh and open and seemed like a beautiful beginning for what would come; Franz Kline and romantic abstract expressionist paint handling still remained in the mix.

Negroponte showed work on two occasions at Kouros Gallery. This was work he made in Sweden. His isolation created a kind of opening for him and a sink or swim situation ensued. Only what was essential now could be allowed into his mix, and the last affiliations with anything or anyone else finally vanished. He was working at the level of bone on bone.  This work was quite surprising, even shocking. It gave me a chill. It looked cool but felt hot. It was stark, and bare. It used decorative materials, i.e. wallpaper but was tough, evasive, intriguing and beautiful.  Underneath the immaculate surfaces was a romantic even desperate attempt to invent a way to express himself and I believe to connect to something larger. He had found himself in a difficult situation from which he would eventually emerge, but not with out making work that was totally unique and very expressive.

In his show last year at Ille Arts in Amagansett, and now living on Long Island, Negroponte’s work took another interesting turn. In this beautiful, sensual show, he paired small scraps of wooden board, usually in the range of 5x3’’x1’’painted in a manner that suggested a force other than the painter’s hand, and definitely not a hand with a painters brush. They were immediately likeable uplifting and luminous.  The paint was hi-keyed in tone and soft in hue; hard and shiny because he used housepainters enamel paint. In other words they felt natural, airy, easy and relaxed. They were Asian, Zen in that way of seeming effortless and gestural- an offering of the natural world. The couplings seemed completely intuitive based on the color and textural harmonies set up in pairings. They were hung a-symmetrically and casually on the wall and the work exuded a beautiful soft light while maintaining a wonderful, charming, profound, and poetic presence. As with all of GN’s work it spoke clearly in the language of painting and in this case of quiet, sensual pleasure.
In his current show titled “Gravel Road” at Anita Rogers’ beautiful new space in Soho Negroponte uses shaped bits and pieces of cardboard as his support. The work feels softer than the previous body of work as the material itself is porous and absorbent in nature and the deep tan color of the cardboard radiates a warm muted soothing light, in a way similar to Vuillard who often used earth colored grounds to inform and unify the colors in his composition. Like Vuillard the work tends to be understated, approachable and intimate. These works are small, all under 20” in height, on the longer side.  The warmth of the ground is balanced by a predominately cool palette, though occasionally he uses a hard fire engine red and there are also whites, deep browns, rich greens, and black as well. As in his last show Negroponte occasionally uses pairings of smaller pieces in combination. The dialogue is intriguing; it’s like watching two children in a playground conversing and sizing each other up. But this is not a defensive matter of the mind as it would be for many adults, but an natural intuitive attempt to find connection in an infinitely opened 5 dimensional field.

In the end what I take from this show, and keep in mind I have watched GN’s paintings since the early 70’s when he was painting his way through Venetian painting, is a man who has over years done everything he can, using every means possible, discarding every shred of unnecessary baggage, finding the most delicate coloristic, harmonic chords that are carefully modulated and applied, to wring out of himself a statement from his heart, that approaches and proclaims his love for this world, his fellow man, and it is my conviction, for the human spirit.

Eric Holzman 2016 

George Negroponte: Gravel Road
Anita Rogers Gallery, New York
Through January 7, 2017