LOUISE FISHMAN at Cheim & Read

Louise Fishman, Geography, 2007, 72 x 65 inches, acrylic on canvas

Louise Fishman, Geography (Detail)

Louise Fishman, Top, 2009, 20 x 10 inches, oil on linen

Louise Fishman, Fire and Ice, 2009, 66 1/4 x 38 3/4 inches, oil on jute

The first word that comes to mind regarding the new paintings by Louise Fishman at Cheim & Read (through May 2) is Fearless. Long regarded as among of the most uncompromising painters in her generation, Louise has achieved with this show a magnificent group of recent works that are at once aggressive and vulnerable, luscious and down right nasty. Unlike virtually every other painter I know, she has over the years seemed to systematically rid herself of "signature" or programmatic approaches to painting. It is evident here that for her, each new canvas is an entirely new and open proposition, presenting the opportunity or the necessity to re-invent the process every time. These paintings are overwhelmingly visceral -- big hunks of paint, poured, scraped, scumbled, layered in bold mostly architectonic structures. Her color is weighty and brooding with moments of punchy contrast and light -- beautiful but never pretty. There is within each work an embodiment of exuberant raw struggle -- a precarious balance between cognition and surrender -- a total disinterest in finish -- a total engagement with that which is utterly real.