"Grids: A Selection of Paintings by Lynne Golob Gelfman"
“Grids: A Selection of Paintings by Lynne Golob Gelfman” at the Perez Art Museum explores the use of geometric grids in Ms Gelfman's work.
Ms. Gelfman is a contemporary artist, raised and educated in the New York City area. However, she has been based in Miami, Florida since 1972.
As demonstrated by Native American designs and by Islamic art, geometric forms have been the basis of works of art almost since the dawn of time. However, geometric forms broke into Western art in a big way in the early 20th century. The Cubists re-constructed reality into angles and geometric planes. Going further, artists such as Kazimir Malevich created paintings using only geometric forms.
Grids featured in geometric abstraction almost from the beginning. Indeed, one of the founders of this movement was Piet Mondrian and grids form the structure of all of Mondrian's major compositions. Mondrian sought to dispense with reality in his paintings in order to reach the spiritual. The paintings do not depict a thing or carry a message that can be verbalized. Rather, they seek to communicate by evoking feelings and emotions like instrumental music does.
Ms. Gelfman takes a somewhat different approach to the use of grids both visually and philosophically.
Visually, whereas Mondrian made use of bold primary colors, Ms. Gelfman's works are vague and monochromatic. Only the large size of the canvases keep them from fading into the Perez's blank walls.
In some cases, this is a product of how the paintings were made. For the “thru” paintings, the acrylic paint was applied to the back of the raw, un-primed canvas. As a result, paint seeped through obscuring the triangular forms that make up the grids. In others, layers of oil and acrylic paint were scraped down to form a worn surface so that the geometric pattern is indistinct in areas. As the exhibition catalogue suggests, it is reminiscent of a mosaic floor in which the pattern has been worn down over time by people walking across it.
Philosophically, whereas Mondrian's images were the product of rational, almost mathematical thought, there is an element of chance in the thru paintings. The process of paint seeping through the canvas is analogous to Jackson Pollock's process of spilling paint on a canvas - - the result is not entirely within the artist's control. Thus, there is something of a blend of geometric abstraction and abstract expressionism here.
In addition, some of the works do not dispense with reality altogether. For example, at first glance “between 2” appears to be random areas of grey with faint slanted white lines crisscrossing over them. However, upon further viewing, the grey forms begin to coalesce into vague images of children and the white lines take on the pattern of a chain link fence. It recalls an out-of-focus newspaper photo that has been photo-copied too often. It evokes thoughts of people who have been marginalized and who are on the outside looking in.
I did not find the works in this exhibition immediately appealing. They are not pretty but there was something about them that made me come back for a second look. As with “between 2,” they become more and more interesting as you study them.
Art review -Perez Art Museum - “Grids: A Seelection of Paintings by Lynne Golob Gelfman”