Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The sheer ebullience and playfulness of Joanne Greenbaum’s big untitled abstract paintings, on display only through July 1 at Rachel Uffner on the Lower East Side, initially obscure the artist’s sharp and systematic attention to her own process. But it becomes readily apparent upon closer inspection.
[Image at top: Joanne Greenbaum, installation view, Rachel Uffner.]
A Greenbaum canvas contains multiple shapes, series, and marks that range from highly resolved and calculated to seemingly slapdash and offhand. For example, in one mainly red and white piece, against a background of evenly spaced vertical lines, what could be interpreted as a stairway starts to ascend fairly decisively from the southeast corner of the canvas, but the line breaks down as more erratic and irregular squiggles, blobs, and slashes encroach competitively from above and below.
Those three elements – a neat array of some kind, a distinctive focusing shape, and a segue into more freewheeling expressiveness – seem to be embedded in most of Greenbaum’s paintings. They impart the sense that she harbors both an appreciation for order and a compulsion to break it down as she gets in a creative and emotional groove.
The co-location of these sensibilities in tension precludes disintegration: the paintings remain stable and confident even as they embrace improvisation. Beyond that, they reflect the artist’s willingness to record her first, second, and even third thoughts about a particular painting right on the canvas, and thus to let viewers in on her interior conversation. Squared away and unafraid of her impulses, Greenbaum winningly advances an introspective and intuitive approach to painting with extraordinary visual panache.
“Joanne Greenbaum: New Paintings and Sculptures,” Rachel Uffner, LES, New York, NY. Through July 1, 2016.
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