by Larry Groff
Lisa Breslow will have a solo exhibition of new paintings and prints at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts November 20 – December 20, 2014 Opening Reception, Thursday, November 20th, 6:00-8:00pm (see the complete online version of the show from this link.
I saw my first Lisa Breslow cityscape painting this summer at the George Billis Gallery Cityscape group show. There were many sensational paintings, but her work held me there the longest. It wasn’t just another skillful rendering of details; she was finding something interesting to say pictorially that was unique to painting. Pushing the paint surface, color and design so that the painting itself was the true subject; not just recording the details of a picturesque view. Often the first thing a viewer might ask is “what’s this intersection or building?” as if once properly identifying the location they understood the painting and could move on. With Breslow’s work, the viewer slows down and is drawn closer to experience the artist’s transformation of the subject into a painting.
Regretfully, I won’t be able to see this current show until later in December but Ms. Breslow was kind to send me some higher resolution photos of the work which gave me an excellent preview of what to expect when I see the work later next month.
Ms. Breslow is a studio painter, working from a variety of sources including photos, drawing and memory. She seems less to be copying details in the photo and more like her brushes were responding to abstract currents buzzing through the grid of city streets. Perhaps like taking raw oscillographic waveforms and painterly transposing these urban sonic and visual sensations into pictorial vision. The cityscapes shimmer between a fuzzy representation and a hard-edged abstraction.
The emotional register of this body of work is dialed to a more serious channel for visual contemplation. Despite the loose touch everything here seems carefully considered and finds its place. There is nothing jarring, awkward or extraneous; it feels resolved. Formal issues such as the abstract structure, tonal unity and resonance of the colors, adherence to the grid and maintaining the flatness of the picture plane seem to be more important than describing and making inventory of the elements in a particular view.
First Snow and Yellow Light are my favorite urban views, not only for their exceptional design and subtle color sensations but also in the vigorous mark-making. I respond to the wider range of directionality and scale of her brushwork here as well as the delightful control and range of values- the blue black elevated line against the light snowy background is a knockout.
The color in her flower still-lifes is more vibrant and warm than the cityscapes. Despite their quiet and intimate nature, these still-lifes excite me by the gutsy way they are made. Her brushstrokes seem less guided by a need to conform to style or abstract master plan for the painting. Breslow seems less apt to reject suggestions from nature for the quality of the mark, which might help the work avoid the risks of predictability. Even though the light and space feels more naturalistic than the cityscapes, the painting retains its strong graphic, abstract directness.
from the Kathryn Markel Fine Arts press release:
Lisa Breslow has exhibited extensively in the United States, has been awarded two Pollock-Krasner Foundation awards, and received an award from the National Academy Museum in New York. She is a recipient of the J. Alden Weir residency in Connecticut and the Cawdor Residency in Scotland. Her work has been reviewed and featured in The New York Times, In New York Magazine, and Arts & Antiques among many others. Breslow has work in numerous collections in the US and abroad, including the Pfizer Corporation, Tiffany and Co., and General Electric.
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