Monday, April 20th, 2009

Glenn Goldberg: Welcome at Luise Ross Gallery

March 26 – May 23, 2009
511 West 25th Street, between 10th and 11th avenues
New York City, 212 343 2161

Glenn Goldberg Amidst it All 2008.  Acrylic and gesso on canvas, 9 x 12 inches.  cover APRIL 2009: Turvy 2004.  Ink, acrylic, gesso on canvas, 14 x 11 inches.  Courtesy Luise Ross Gallery
Glenn Goldberg Amidst it All 2008. Acrylic and gesso on canvas, 9 x 12 inches. Courtesy Luise Ross Gallery

In an exhibition simply entitled “Welcome,” which features paintings, a wall piece, works on paper, and sculptures from the early 1990s till today, Glenn Goldberg makes a strong case for the whimsical and the poetic. “Watch and live, pay attention, do what you can,” is his personal manifesto (from a statement published by the gallery.)  In a time when much of what is exhibited  feels generalized, slick, and superficial, Goldberg offers a romantic approach to painting that feels honest and inspired. With a sensitivity that reminds us of Paul Klee, he succeeds in combining playful forms with a tantalizing sensibility for nuances of light and color.

Goldberg’s work has repeatedly been linked to Tantric art, in particular in the way it establishes an analogy between the micro – and macrocosmic. However, the artist gleans from many sources and his works evoke many associations, ranging from Persian miniature paintings, Turkish tile patterns, and children’s book illustrations to works by artists as diverse as Richard Pousette-Dart, Albert Pinkham Ryder and Thomas Noszkowski. There is much variety and it is Goldberg’s strength to remain beyond strict categorization. With confidence, he navigates directions between abstraction and referential drawing, musical rhythm and dreamlike release, monochromatic and highly polychromatic palettes. Most of his imagery is rooted in the organic and yet conglomerates of patterned forms can establish structures that hint at geometric organization.

Meanwhile, there is a striking naivite in Goldberg’s work. It seems to tell of a time detached from worldly concerns which, especially in times like these , betokens escapism. Goldberg’s content feeds into this notion. In some of the works at Luise Ross Gallery, dove-like birds float freely through the compositions. They are delicately rendered, shown upside down, topsy-turvy, in black, white, or grey, their wings always spread as open as flower petals. These mythic creatures are not as much set against painted grounds, as they are ingredients of the overall compositional pattern. They are weaving in- and out of abstract plants, emerging from dark skies, dancing on stringed ropes, and are at ease while shifting through the textured landscapes that surround them. Rather than actual animals, they appear as spirits, who indulge in their freedom. The fragility and innocence in these images can be linked to Picasso’s  “Child with a Dove (1901) But there is also a strong sense of comfort here and Goldberg stresses the sentiment by naming his works “Blanket,” “Amidst it All,” and “Bloomer,” for example. As suggested in these titles, “things are kept safe,” “in the center of it all,” and “on the brink of flourish,” as long as they are in the hands of Goldberg. This goes along with Goldberg’s conviction that “art is supposed to take you towards, not away.”