Friday, January 31, 2020

Susan Rothenberg at Sperone Westwater

     Susan Rothenberg’s new show at Sperone Westwater is yet another solid example of why seeing artwork in person is much more powerful than onscreen. Her vigorous application of paint, sometimes thickly applied, grainy, and forceful is present in several pieces, particularly “Twisted Tree” 60x75”. It reminds me of being outside in a storm and looking at trees as the wind and rain blur your vision, and marvelling at the powerful struggle between wind and the swaying trees staying rooted. No idea as to her intention, but that’s what The Gallery Guy felt.

     Rothenberg uses her trademark palette of grays, warm and cool, with black and white and the occasional splotch of color. “Sack” had that similar feeling to “Twisted Tree’ - heavy, imbedded, w cooler grays though.

    Same w another figurative piece, “Stone Angel,” with more rendering of a face but still full of weight. Nice touch is the subtle tree branch w red blossoms.

     Another piece that has a face, “Pianist Playing Shubert,” (bottom) is the largest piece in the show at 64x91”.  It’s getting alot of attention, but IMHO, just not feeling it.

   Don’t forget to go upstairs if you get to the gallery, some nice surprises. The offbeat, well-composed  “Four Red Birds” 61x35, and “Untitled” an arm holding a cigarette with smoke swirling (31x23 on paper) left me wondering how the artist feels about smoking, pro or con? The aforementioned “Twisted Tree” is on the 2nd floor, too.

     Below are other pieces in the show which is up through Feb. 29, 2020. The statement attributes the presence of critters to Ms. Rothenberg living in New Mexico, but her work has frequently had horses and more before this. In these days of so much saturated imagery, it’s a breath of fresh air to see work with compositions that have room to breathe, that forces the viewer to take a beat and really look at what is happening on the surface of that canvas and feel the presence of the artist at work.

"Band and Hands" 58x72
"Buddha Monk"

"Pianist Playing Shubert"