Contributed by Ben Pritchard / Andrew Zarou’s compelling exhibition at The Painting Center is resonant of the comprehensive order that one might covet in a time of unusual disarray, isolation, and uncertainty, when basic aims like survival and sharing have become politicized. Order, in this sense, is not strict thinking or obsessive tidiness but rather the platonic quality of harmonic totality. The impulse starts in the mind of the artist and extends through each painting to the installation overall and finally out into the gallery space. Think of the minimalist compositions of Lamonte Young and Steve Reich filtered through the mind of an indie rocker.
Some paintings make the connectedness between the individual – in particular, the painter – and his or her worldly context especially clear. In moon relay, it’s direct and visual. leaving the nest registers both a personal lament and a graphic illustration whereby line interacts with field. A bit more intellectualized, landscape vowels explores the convergence of verbal and visual language. under the rhododendron, my favorite, imparts greater depth and psychological subtlety, bringing to mind a child staring at a plant and coming to an awareness of the linkages and complexities of life more broadly.
Zarou’s quiet, introverted process involves a limited set of tools and the rigorous regulation of studio time. This could easily lead to yet another reductive experience, but his extraordinary curiosity ensures an expansiveness that renders his paintings something akin to songs. Integral to the show are the surprisingly complex “lost percussive” drawings on the back wall. They seem to reference rhythmic failure as a starting point for a larger inquiry. While this particular beat stops at 30 and the wall itself is of course finite, the percussive continuum could expand indefinitely to inform more paintings. Zarou has arrived at a nice rhythm.
“Andrew Zarou: Views from the Paraffin Parapet,” The Painting Center, 547 W. 27th Street, Suite 500, New York, NY. Through February 27, 2021.
About the author: Ben Pritchard is a painter based in Brooklyn. He recently had a solo show at Equity Gallery in New York.