Oil on wood panel
20″ x 12″
Photo: Sunny Volkert, courtesy Peter Blake Gallery
One of Laguna’s most successful gallerists, Peter Blake shifted focus three years ago, from mostly LA-based artists, to artists working in a reductive, minimalist style, including numerous artists from way beyond Southern California. His recent three-person exhibition highlighted two artists currently based in Brooklyn-Matthew Deleget and Don Voisine-and one from the Bay Area, Hadi Tabatabai. Matthew Deleget, whose work was included this spring in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, created a nine work series called Vanitas for this show. Taking nine enamel spray paint colors-black, sun yellow, pewter, red, gold, true blue, Dover White, bright yellow and Ford Blue-he then monochromatically spray-painted each canvas and its surrounding ultra-baroque frame with one of these colors. The result is nine paintings that echo in form, structure, and even simplicity of subject matter, the Dutch 16th-17th century “vanitas” still-life paintings. Conversely, the effect of each work, with its nearly neon splash of single color, is a mesmerizing in-your-face challenge to traditional painting. The artist’s inspiration for the series also includes Mondrian’s paintings and monochromatic works by the 1970s-80s “Radical Painting Group.”
The two other artists in this show create work, based on geometric shapes, which take on visual harmony in their elegant structure and subtle realization. Don Voisine’s oil on wood panels are composed of symmetrical geometric shapes, created and arranged in various configurations. Using shiny black paint, bordered by matte black paint, with hints of white or cream showing through and stripes of color in each, these works allude to architectural forms. The installation of these 16 pieces evokes the boundaries, entry and access points of living spaces; yet each painting draws in the viewer in its own way. Peppermint Stack, with its two, conjoined uneven rectangles, suggests an askew space that is contained by pink stripes bordering the top and bottom. Hadi Tabatabai combines acrylic paint with thread in 12 black, white and gray works, recalling Agnes Martin’s minimal, carefully structured and often obsessively painted works. Yet in Tabatabai’s paintings, elegance is achieved with the addition of numerous threads spanning much of the surface. The largest work, Thread Painting 2011-11, (541⁄8-by-50¾ inches) is composed of nine, white-bordered squares in a grid configuration. Beneath the nine overt squares are four additional, subtler squares. This and the artist’s other 11 works are so intricately conceived and put together that viewing them can evoke a meditative state.