Volume 77 / Number 52 - May 28 - June 3, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Courtesy Gallery Nine 5
Monia Lippi “The Monkey’s Corner”
Ring around the New Museum district
You can get anything you want in the Lower East Side
Through June 14
Janos Gat Gallery
Gallery Nine 5
24 Spring Street
LOVE = LOVE
Jen Bekman Galllery
Through June 14
6 Spring St.
BY JEFFREY CYPHERS WRIGHT
The Lower East Side Gallery Guide now lists 43 venues and new ones are opening all the time. Up and running just three weeks, Gallery Nine 5 hasn’t even had its inaugural bash yet. Nearby on Spring Street, Jen Bekman, one of the original pioneers, celebrates her third year as an art dealer in the neighborhood.
Janos Gat Gallery overlooks the Bowery from the third and fourth floors. The current artist Carol Ross pits balancing forces against each other to suspend her constructs in space. Symmetric points meet and project potential energy. Like batteries, they store a sense of projection, of built-in power.
Starting with the angles and saturated color of Hard Edged Abstraction, Ross mixes Southwestern motifs, heraldic effects and architectonic elements.
Each of the large paintings is made of several modules. This allows the artist to maintain her strict edges and lines while breaking the rectilinear format of the traditional picture plane.
Held in by green, pointed red shafts convene in the largest work, “Painting on Bark.” Their crystalline tips touch like stalagmites and stalactites. Thinly and repeatedly applied, the red paint is built up unevenly. The resulting minute ridges and ripples undulate. Sediment settles into the canvas’s weave creating a blizzard of tiny highlights. Trees swirl in the wind… waves crash… clouds howl by… figures are immersed in an endless ebb and flow.
“Blue Diamonds” uses the same form: a long vertical strip flanked by trapezoidal wings. Inside black stripes, blue diamonds float. Within this nebulous blue, smaller orange diamonds are concentrated, like pupils in a god’s eye. The foreground shifts to the back. In Ross’s work, the solid is challenged by absence. Forms and morphs are locked into a dynamic harmony. The tensions between hierarchies compact the space, giving it great presence. So, it’s no wonder that the forceful paintings from this period propelled the artist into another dimension—sculpture.
Gallery Nine 5 is a snazzy joint where the gritty chic of Williamsburg meets tribal art from the Congo, Gabon and Zaire. European curator Sebastien Le Pelletier brings his Parisian savoir-faire to offer a unique vision. As I admired a white fluorescent sign that read “Forget Flavin” (by Anne Katrine Senstad) a duo of hipsters was loosely interviewing the director Amber Leigh Kelsey for “Suite Tooth” magazine. They were describing the gallery as an expression of an “insider’s view looking inside again.”
I was especially drawn to Italian Monia Lippi’s color photos of industrial Williamsburg corners at night. Using all natural lighting, the effects are brilliant but unstaged—sometimes she had to wait hours to get the right combination of car lights. This technique enhances the authenticity of the work and is in tone with the outlaw nature of the nocturnal scenes overgrown with glorious graffiti and visceral alienation.
The votive tradition of Mexico is alive in the paintings of Alfredo Vitchis Roquee who is the subject of the book “Infinitas Gracias.” Custom has it that one can alleviate transgressions by commissioning a painter to convey supplication and achieve forgiveness. Roquee follows this format but with twists. Jesus doesn’t look at home on the cross up there on the cantina’s wall.
Kent Rogowski’s puzzle-derived fantasies at Jen Bekman Gallery appeal on aesthetic and associative levels. Using the subjects and grids of jigsaw puzzles, Bekman contradicts commonality by infusing personality. The flowers, trees and castles shift in scale and jostle, causing an expressionistic ardor to resound.
This part of town still admits some variances in scale, too. Come take a look.