Monday, April 21, 2008
Thomas Nozkowski at Pace in Chelsea
"The other Pace newcomer is an old hand: the abstract painter Thomas Nozkowski, 64, who showed at Max Protetch from 1990 to 2006. (No sharing here; there is not a whiff of Mr. Nozkowski on the Protetch Web site.) If a little too plentiful, Mr. Nozkowski’s paintings at Pace attest to the durability of his particular brand of abstraction — small, inventive, colorful in all sorts of unexpected ways. His achievement lies in erasing the division between geometric and organic form that was one of the bugaboos of early Modernism and then melding them with more than a hint of cartooning into a signature style unburdened by a signature motif.
Each painting feels like a new adventure in shape, space, color and suggested meaning, and a continual joke on Modernist seriousness that is also serious, most of all in its visual richness and telling surface variations. Constructivism is leavened with suggestions of children’s blocks or worn Persian textile. A grid of colored squares waves like a flag. A mountain shape is unnaturally striped in bold blue red. A series of vivid black and red ellipses are extended into a pale pinkish shape that suggests a tree trunk with sawed-off limbs. Mr. Nozkowski has come a longer way than most artists to what some would term the art-gallery big time. Some of his earliest shows, starting in 1979, were at 55 Mercer, the artists-run cooperative that recently ended its 39-year-run in SoHo this year. If PaceWildenstein made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, it was also one he richly deserves."