Refracting the view
| || Courtesy JosŽe Bienvenu Gallery|
| ||Gorten Glen Forest Park, Ireland|
By adding an abstract layer to his landscape paintings, Marti Cormand invests them with psychological portent.
By VICKY PERRY
The current exhibition by Marti Cormand at JosŽe Bienvenu Gallery consists of five oil paintings on canvas. They appear to be straightforward, though perhaps dull, landscapes. After a few seconds, however, we become aware of a series of confetti-like, bright colored painted shapes woven quietly into the scene not hidden exactly but not begging attention.
Once we pass through this two-stage process of recognizing discontinuities within several canvases, we know what to expect. We then find ourselves visually scouring every bit of the pictures' planes in order to catalogue the abstract violations in the scenery. Cormand has thus used abstraction to enliven the entire landscape. The viewer no longer prefers to linger visually on the tempting, glassy water's surface because now a clump of grass or weeds is holding a crimson bar in its shadows. Visual interest is refracted all over.
Works by: Marti Cormand.
| March 8 - April 9, 2005|
Opening reception: March 8, 2005, 6-8
Gallery: JosŽe Bienvenu Gallery
529 W. 20th St.
New York NY
Phone: (212) 206-7990
We feel the sensation of logic breaking down. In the realist tradition, color-forms are painted following the dictates of the natural, everyday world. The painter exercises almost no choice in the matter. When we accept the inclusion of purely abstract decorations, we understand that nature's logic is not governing what is painted but rather the willful human impulses of taste, humor, discretion and psychological associations are guiding paint application.
These would appear to be mutually antithetic modes of working. But the success of these works hangs in Cormand's ability to make natural logic and abstract logic respect one another. The accord between the realism and the abstraction may be seen in the way Cormand selects scenery. Most vistas are redolent with visual emptiness sponge-like. Additionally the shapes of the intensely colored marks respects and mimics the natural shapes where they are placed: vertically oriented bars among tree trunks, irregular discs near a stony brook, or arcs atop branches. Finally the resonance between realism and abstraction is reinforced by the grouping of abstract marks into loose clusters much the way a natural texture will predominate in one or another portion of a landscape.
| ||...the success of these works hangs in Cormand's ability to make natural logic and abstract logic respect one another.|
The color-clusters seem to have given off stragglers, rebellious units that scatter and drift into unexpected pockets of the scene. Our eyes are led in a full circuit across the canvas. The entire landscape is scrubbed free of its "inevitability" and, at the same time, the abstract forms have leeched some "motivation" from the realism.
No abstract elements invade the skies which are generally a soft gray and very well handled. Could it be that just as Cormand sees a rightness in nestling pure colors into a dully-colored scene, so he understands the visual and material dichotomy between earth and sky?
What does the pluralism finally mean? No less than a visual tolerance. We enjoy these works if we calmly accept that a system can be cross-pollinated. Rod-like candy canes in the forest become deliberately intense color notes that weave a secondary narrative into the landscape. These paintings are not a dismissal of the standard laws of visual coherence. Rather they offer examples of the potential beauties to be created from co-mingled styles.
|APRIL 4, 2005|
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