MARA HELD at Kurnatowski

Mara Held, Hiroshige I, 2008, 24 x 32 1/8 inches, egg tempera on linen

Mara Held, Cypress, 2009, 10 x 8 inches, egg tempera on muslin over panel

Mara Held, Cypress (Detail)

Perfectly describing her work as "an investigation into the timbre of the physical world", Mara Held is showing a group of beautiful and intense abstract paintings at Janet Kurnatowski Gallery in Brooklyn, through November 15. Using a meticulous and painstaking traditional egg tempera process, Held builds rich layered surfaces -- actually low reliefs -- that craze and fray at edges conveying a deep sense of time, and possessing a hand-made almost brittle delicacy, with the tooth of the linen support adding the suppleness of an old tapestry. Held's images are infused with lively color and undulating linear topographies that shimmer with opticality, like visualizations of ecstatic impulses. These paintings are deeply sensual objects that, in their facture and their dynamism, are able to convey surprising states of saturated sensation.