THOMAS PIHL Paintings
THOMAS ERBEN | JUNE 14 – JULY 27, 2001
A Norwegian painter who has shown in the U.S. and Norway, Thomas Pihl’s first solo exhibition in New York contains 12 untitled paintings. His work calls to mind Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland, and other painters of the late ‘60s who were championed by Clement Greenberg and sought to reduce painting to its essence, namely surface and color. Demanding the viewer’s time, Pihl’s work is unapologetically contemplative. Working on the floor and carefully supporting the canvas to attain a perfectly smooth paint application, Pihl glazes his canvas with layers of acrylic paint, which are toned down with hefty portions of acrylic medium. Through as many as 12 layers of paint, he achieves a waxy, translucent, smooth surface with exceptionally subtle variations of color—so subtle that photographs of the paintings cannot capture these soft, organic transitions. In one piece, the edges are a faint violet, which transitions closer to white towards the center of the canvas. In another, the colors shift from a yellow ocher at the center to an olive-drab on the margins.
To visually frame his paintings, Pihl allows the darker, less translucent underlayers of paint to show through at the margins. The paintings’ surfaces are a smooth plastic—appearing to be manufactured by machine rather than painted by human hands. However, after closer examination, the perfect surface is revealed to contain blemishes. Tiny pits, hairline cracks, and even dust mar the entire surface of the painting. Though on first glance these artifacts are invisible and given enough distance remain invisible, they nonetheless contribute to two mutually opposed ways of seeing the paintings: as purified experiments in color and technique, and as a marred plastic surface, each embodying an individuality antithetical to manufactured fabrication.
These “mistakes” are intentional. Because of them, Pihl’s work is more than a display of color sensitivity: it is a critique on the simplistic notion of formal purity espoused by Greenberg and exemplified by Color Field patterns. Yet, these works speak too softly to be polemical. They contain the insidious side to purity in the form of pits and cracks—a blemished flip side uncovered when anything pure is subjected to scrutiny.
Robert C. Morgan: The Loggia Paintings: Early and Recent WorkBy Jonathan Goodman
NOV 2022 | ArtSeen
Intellectual, critic, and art historian Robert C. Morgan also makes paintings, and has been doing so for most of his long career. The current show, on view in the large, high-ceilinged main space of the Scully Tomasko Foundation, consists of a series of drawings called Living Smoke and Clear Water: small, mostly black-and-white works, of both an abstract expressionist and calligraphic nature (early on in life, Morgan studied with a Japanese calligrapher).
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MAY 2021 | ArtSeen
For Frank Bowlings inaugural exhibition with the gallery, paintings from a six-decade career that saw Bowling work between London and New York are presented at both the London and New York locations simultaneously. Works on view span over 50 years of the artists career, from 1967 to the present day.
Robert C. Morgan: The Loggia Paintings: Early and Recent WorkBy Raphy Sarkissian
NOV 2022 | ArtSeen
Severe yet expressive, hermetic yet lucid, circumspect yet luxuriant, the geometric abstractions painted by Robert C. Morgan are absorbing explorations of form.
Brenda Goodman: Hop Skip JumpNew Work 2022By Andrew L. Shea
MARCH 2023 | ArtSeen
These paintings work not in the realm of intellect, but that of feeling. Goodmans is a formalism that is never escapist or hermetic, but instead tied to an encyclopedic spectrum of human emotions, including terror, despondency, anger, hope, joy, even love. As she prepares to enter her ninth decade, Goodman has once again come upon a new abstract language that, somehow, remains intimately in touch with those important realities.