“On the Edge” at Cheryl Hazan Gallery
By APRIL KORAL
Steven Baris, Somewhere Beyond or Behind D8, 2012, oil on mylar.
It was the hubbub of the holidays that drove Cheryl Hazan to mount the show now at her gallery on North Moore Street.
“My mind was seeing too many things. I needed a rest,” Hazan said recently as she led a visitor on a tour of the works. “I needed to see something minimal and crisp. Something clean and calm.”
“On the Edge,” an exhibit of eight artists who see the world through its endless displays of patterns, lines and shapes, is just that.
Hazan, who curated the exhibit, concedes that many of the individual pieces are not always calm—Steven Baris’s work, she says, is a study in “spatial tension” and Matt Devine’s steel sculptures are trying to “quell internal struggle”—but when seen together, the combination does have a calming effect on the viewer.
Indeed, the works play off each other with surprising symbiosis.
Take one gallery alcove devoted to the work of three artists. A piece by Mitch Jones—bold red stripes laid across the pages of old ledgers and books—that might have assaulted the eye soothes instead when paired with a joyous work by Jon Elliott.
Mitch Jones, Docutone Series, Red, 2012
Titled Conjoining Swirls, it is a swirl of ceramic fragments affixed to the wall that seems ready to take off in all directions.
Rounding off the trio and speaking in a quieter, more intellectual voice is the work of Ivan Stojakovic, who takes apart ordinary tables to show what lies beneath the surface. What is revealed in his piece here (White Out) is a delightful honeycomb pattern that only on close inspection tells its secret. It is the cardboard innards found in the millions of tables and other furniture sold by Ikea and other mass producers. Stojakovic’s deconstruction is, in fact, a means to “violate, refashion and refurbish the readymades,” according to the artist’s statement.
Hazan says that the first works she acquired for this show were those of Mitch Jones and Charles Christopher Hill, whose A Seat at the Table is a series of bands of color covered with acrylic.
“Then I said to myself, ‘That would be a very busy show and against what I wanted to accomplish,’” she recalled. “So I added other patterns.” When the show was almost complete, Hazan said she realized something was missing: geometry. She called Steven Baris, whose Somewhere Beyond filled the bill with his canvases of angular shapes and perpendicular lines.
Hazan notes that this show is a departure for the gallery, which usually features more established artists. On advice from her two assistants, both artists, she made studio visits to artist in Bushwick who had been in few, if any, shows. The sense of discovery energized her.
“These artists are so talented, so brilliant,” she said.
Not all the artists are young and unheralded. Cesar Paternosto, born in Argentina in 1931 and living in New York, in some way sets the tone for the show. A well-known abstract painter, he has reduced his work to a few bars of colors that hug the edges of the white canvas. Rather than feeling empty, the work communicates a welcome silence. It is just what Hazan was hoping for.
Anyone who lives in this city, even in the quieter corners of Downtown, would welcome the respite that this show offers. Go take a look.
“On the Edge” at Cheryl Hazan Contemporary Art, 35 North Moore St. To Feb. 9.