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Between​ ​the​ ​Color


As the title suggests, the six abstract artists in this show rely on color as a primary constituent in their pictorial gambits for engaging the viewer. The risk, as is always the case with color, is to short-circuit the viewer’s experience with a reflexively pleasurable experience that is pleasing but goes no further. The artists whose art skews toward sculpture—Miriam Ancis, Fred Bendheim, and Wendy Letven—have less to worry about on that score given how three-dimensional works assertively engage the viewer’s space. The artists whose work principally addresses painterly issues—Emily Berger, Hovey Brock, and Karen Nielsen-Fried—all rely to a greater or lesser degree on the illusion of space to move the viewer’s experience of color in their work beyond the simply decorative. Yet, all six artists bring in color to their work as metonymic rather than metaphorical propositions, which is to say that color in these artists’ works are part of something larger in the works themselves rather than indices to something beyond the works.

No surprises here, as abstract art since Minimalism has never strayed far from the viewer’s actual experience of the object. Which brings us to the ellipsis in the title itself, as the word “between” requires a pairing, but here has only one element—color. The other element, or elements, do not get named, because the artists in this show are interested in leaving open that “something larger” that color introduces in each work. Certainly that could include the viewer’s actual experience, as Minimalism would have it, but could also include the viewer’s memories that color his or her experience, what happened that day in the news, the weather, and all the other myriad influences that color our perceptions. Consider color as not only the opening gambit for these artists but their axial metaphor for encompassing how the experience of the object intuitively shifts over time according to a number of influences that defy ready normalization, as summed up in color’s extraordinary sensitivity to light and mood. Each artist brings his or her own series of operations to bear on this process.