Saturday, May 1st, 2004

Harriet Korman: New Paintings

Lennon, Weinberg, Inc.
560 Broadway, Ste. 308
New York, NY 10012
phone: 212-941-0012

April 16 – May 28, 2004

Harriet Korman Untitled 2004 oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches Courtesy Lennon, Weinberg
Harriet Korman, Untitled 2004 oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches Courtesy Lennon, Weinberg

For many reasons there has been a lasting mystique surrounding the work of Harriet Korman. She is revered by her peers as well as by older and younger artists. Her new show at Lennon, Weinberg is likely to perpetuate that particular regard. Early twentieth century abstraction or “non objective painting” as it was called then, comes immediately to mind. This however is not Korman’s aim or interest. Her work comes more out of conceptual-process work of the seventies. Abstract is the key word here. Illusions, allusions, light and space are assiduously avoided.

The compositions are improvised and unpredictable. They fall into two categories, curvilinear and rectilinear. There are also multi-panel and single panel works. The curvilinear based on a kind of looping line that creates overlapping shapes; the compositions work off the edge and confound conventional organizational logic by turning away from every readable image. The linear are arrangements of squares off set by triangles connecting oddly to the edges.

The astonishing feature in all of the work is the use of color. It’s pure out of the tube oil paint, evenly applied, in strong (and generally uninflected) color. Korman uses little white, except occasionally on it’s own. The result is a really intense color experience in stasis.

Korman’s colors are anything but ingratiating. Browns and other earth tones appear next to full force greens, different reds are combined with full force blue. The compositions are such that each color gets the opportunity to interact with four or more others. The color relationships are almost always unexpected. The paintings are mostly of a medium size and there are also a number of small ones. The smaller pieces are especially satisfying little blasts of active yet monastic feeling color.

A lot of people will look at and puzzle with these paintings. They are uncompromising and even what might be called difficult. The game plan is singular to Korman and will most likely remain so.