So many painters are constantly trying to come to terms with the so-called "weight" of art history -- either by distancing themselves or by selectively lifting references, or through myriad other "strategies". But in the paintings of Eric Holzman, the distinctions that separate past from present and future become irrelevant -- the history of painting is not a burden to bear but an arena of perpetual richness, a place to dwell.
At Sideshow in Brooklyn, through December 20, is an exhibition featuring a group of Eric's recent paintings (as well as some wall sculptures by Tracy Heneberger). Holzman is showing four large canvases, and one small piece along with a few small works on paper. Each of the large paintings is a tour de force of engagement with the elemental properties of painting, and with the artist's own sensate world. To call these paintings landscapes would be to severely limit their scope -- although indeed the subjects are trees, light, color. But as though zoomed in to a one inch portion of the distant horizon in a Titian, then blown up to 8 feet high -- Holzman's central tree image is inseparable from the teeming atmosphere and the kinetic surface, all unified by a patina of light. Holzman builds his images with a chalky mixture of oil paint and grit, layer after layer, in a constantly mutating dance of color resonances and shifting shapes -- achieving a heightened intensity of shimmering color and sensual space that is truly hallucinatory. The tension between the chunky roughness of the surface and the flowing softness of the space holds the image in a kind of vibrating stasis. These are not paintings about the appearance of landscape, but about its abiding spirit -- and about painting's ageless ability to embody the best of human spirit.