12.10.14

RICHARD NONAS at Fergus McCaffrey, NY

Richard Nonas, installation view

There is a rare and welcome opportunity to see the work of Richard Nonas at Fergus McCaffrey through October 25, 2014. This exquisite show includes a vast array of works from 1970 to the present. Nonas regards sculpture as inseparable from space, so although each piece operates independently, they are installed to orchestrate our experience of the whole. The space that surrounds the piece is as important as the piece itself, and the activation of the space by the placement of the various works and their interactions becomes a prime source of resonance. The pieces might be regarded as simple arrangements of basic geometric volumes -- but that would be ignoring what is unique and magical about this work, and what separates Nonas from some of his peers like Andre and LeWitt. Coming from a background as a social anthropologist, Nonas is attuned to the potential energies of specific materials and configurations as generators of meaning, as evocations of feeling. In this regard he actually has more in common with Beuys than Andre. Each object or arrangement contains a sort of trigger -- some little "glitch" that opens a door beyond the formal, to a timeless well of human history and consciousness. This powerful installation creates a charged space that pulls us into its archetypal matrix, and puts us in touch with our fundamental humanity. 

Richard Nonas, installation view

Richard Nonas, installation view

Richard Nonas, installation view

Richard Nonas, installation view

Richard Nonas, Untitled, 2014, 33 x 16 x 4.5 inches, steel

Richard Nonas, Untitled, 1990, 9 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches, steel

Richard Nonas, Untitled, 1992, 7.5 x 30.25 inches, steel

Richard Nonas, Untitled, 1985, 10.5 x 12.25 x5.25 inches, steel

Richard Nonas, Untitled, 2009, 24 x 17 x 7.5 inches, wood

Richard Nonas, Untitled (First Series), 2014, 7 x 4 x 4 inches, steel

Richard Nonas, installation view

Richard Nonas, Hack, 1970, 42 x 41.5 x 9.5 inches, steel

Richard Nonas, Steel Drawing, 5 Plates: One Red, One Yellow, 1988, 71.5 x 123 x .75 inches, oil paint on steel

Richard Nonas, Untitled, 1975/2014, 80 x 64 inches, oil stick on paper

Richard Nonas, Untitled, 1970, 44.5 x 56 inches, carpenter's glue on butcher paper



12.8.14

In the Studio

Steven Alexander, Tracer #3, 2014, 36 x 32 inches, acrylic on canvas

17.7.14

Notes on Abstraction

There is a common misconception about abstraction that surfaced in a recent statement by a prominent practitioner of figure compositions:
"Completely abstract paintings, in which there is no figure, landscape, still life or other subject, are about composition itself. We see the paint as paint. We see the color and texture and value and the way paint was applied, the gestural touch of the painter's hand."

An abstract painting is not a design project. Accomplished abstraction is NEVER just "about composition itself". It participates in a long and diverse legacy of ontological investigation and proposition. It embodies, through specific resonances of color, configuration and physicality, a sense of place -- psychological, physical, existential. It proposes the potential for meaning through the agency of visual metaphor and presence. It reflects a cosmology that is not anthropocentric or dogmatic, but concerned with open and ineffable experience, and built upon ambiguity, speculation, and uncertainty.

A very abbreviated tour of abstraction through time: 

Ron Gorchov

Terry Winters


Brice Marden


Richard Long


Blinky Palermo

Forrest Bess


Joan Snyder


Louise Fishman


Richard Tuttle


Walter De Maria


Cy Twombly


Jasper Johns


Robert Rauschenberg


Joan Mitchell


Agnes Martin


Mark Rothko


Barnett Newman


Piet Mondrian


Kazimir Malevich


Paul Klee


Wassily Kandinsky


Tantric Painting, India, 20th century


Aboriginal Australia, 20th century



Weaving, Navajo, 19th century


Textile, Ghana, 19th century 


Tiebele, West Africa


New Mexico, circa 1200


Textile, Peru, circa 1200


Greek, 8th century BC


Minoan, 1800 BC


Ethiopia


Cueva del Castillo, Spain, circa 40,000 BC

Images from the Internet

26.6.14

In the Studio

Steven Alexander, Is and Was #22, 2014, 60 x 50 inches, acrylic on canvas