Betty Cunningham presents fourteen paintings and a selection of drawings from the past three years. Each is a quiet contemplative, melancholy landscape-like space, reminiscent of Albert Pinkham Ryder’s allegorical landscapes. In a 2005 Art in America exhibition review, Hearne Pardee wrote that Berthot’s allusions to 19th-century painting are not superficial appropriations but efforts to recover the sense of discovery artists such as Ryder brought to the medium. “Berthot’s concern is not with rendering leaves or bark, but with transforming pigment into substantial form, extending the transcendental impulse of his drawings into paint. His golden glows and ghostly, bluish lights articulate masses more elemental than any particular subject in nature.”
In case young readers aren’t familiar with Berthot’s work, he’s been exhibiting regularly in New York since the early 1970’s, was included in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Annual in 1969 and again in 1973; The Corcoran Biennial in 1975; the Venice Biennale in 1976—his impressive biography continues for thirteen pages. In other words, the man knows how to sling paint. And, in addition to that, he was a visiting artist while I was in grad school. A catalog, Notes from Notes to Myself, accompanies the exhibition.
“Jake Berthot,” Betty Cunningham Gallery, New York, NY. Through May 10.