In Williamsburg yesterday, I stopped by Southfirst to see Ariel Dill’s exhibition “Oscillations,” a thought-provoking show of eight small paintings that take early 20th-century experimental abstraction as their point of departure. Southfirst co-founder and director Maika Pollack is the NY Observer’s museum critic, on the Bard faculty, and an expert on painting in fin-de-siècle France, so naturally her statement for the show is terrific.
“Oscillations” can be taken to refer to either the striated facture and vibratory color combinations present in each of the eight paintings in the show, or the eclectic style in which the works are painted. From the black curved lines and flat, subtle brushwork of Traipsed, which evokes the early abstractions of Mondrian, to the radiant, Kupka-like facture of Astrology, the works take as their starting point diverse early-twentieth century experiments in abstraction. Dill’s heterogenous “Oscillations” can be taken as a reaction to the commodified “signature style” often associated with painting, and as a feminist critique of the masculine trope of the unique and expressive, involuntary gesture. Yet the work exceeds this reading to yield pleasure in its wide-ranging references to the past and in its vibrant, nearly textile materiality…
Rather than hanging the paintings in a traditional white cube, Dill has painted the bottom half of the wall grey, referencing images of Gertrude Stein’s salon and signalling a more intimate, less didactic approach. Rejecting manifestos, Dill proposes that painting can still generate complex and meaningful conversation. Yes, I agree.
Image of Gertrude Stein’s salon at 27 Rue du Fleurus from the Met Museum’s exhibition”The Steins Collect.”
“Ariel Dill: Oscillations,” Southfirst, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. Through May 27, 2010.
Painting for umpteen years: Lutes and Dill in LA
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