“Currents in Photography” at Walter Wickiser Gallery, New York, May 26-June 21, 2016 -- Review by David Gibson

This exhibition hides behind a prosaic title that only slyly serves its ultimate purpose: to present the advanced visual agendas of a crop of mature artists working in a field only vestigially related to what one commonly refers to as photography. Their cumulative inventiveness is a breath of fresh air within the overcrowded milieu of the current demimonde.  Sandra Gottlieb is a portrait painter of nature’s wildest manifestations—the waves that thrash upon the shore, and which form a seemingly endless landscape beyond the reaches of solid earth. Her images run the gamut from explosive to contemplative. They are unique in that they treat their subject with indifference toward anything but discoveries of serendipitous design. Her favorite hunting ground for capturing these images is 500 feet off the sand in Brighton Beach, where her telephoto lenses capture the minute and the grandiose alike, each swirl or crest a gesture unique as a snowflake. But for Gottlieb there is no need for met…

"100 Paintings: An Artist's Life in New York City" by Rob Mango -- Review by David Gibson

The memoir of the artist is often considered to be a compelling story. For those who are interested in the private lives of cultural figures, specifically those who have entered into the annals of history, a book by anyone of note lends a palimpsest of dimensions to our current understanding of who they were, and how their own model can act as a symbol for our shared self-knowledge. This is what constitutes the basis for Rob Mango’s memoir, a story worth telling about all the experiences in his life, up until now, that have built him as a person and ultimately as an artist. The voice that does the telling is inimitably his own, virile and dynamic, the voice of an athlete who became an artist, and for whom the physical environment and the physical bodies around him were a continual source of inspiration, reflecting personal and mythical realities. Place also has been an important part of Mango’s story, specificallly the Lower Manhattan area which only since he lived there has come to b…

"Resonance and Memory: The Essence of Landscape" curated by Robert Curcio at Elga Wimmer PCC, New York -- Review by David Gibson

There are a few specific concepts that are made comprehensible through art. These are endemic to the basic process of creative vision, and they tend to construct a bias, or force the flow of a specific passion, so that one can become devoted to one choice over another. In the world of traditional painting, the divergence begins in school, where classes are taught in either body or landscape painting. Or to put it in other terms, a choice between depicting the intimacy of bodies in all their brick and mortar realness or the intimacy of the living environment which envelops us. No painting can put another’s flesh in our hands, or present us with the experience of standing upon a mountaintop or running barefoot through the grass. But art can both depict and enact a quality of perception that allows us to live beyond the banality of the moment. The image of a landscape is what we think about when we hear the word itself. Yet what is attempted, and in many ways achieved by “Resonance and M…

Gloria Garfinkel "Origami Interpretations" at The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, November 18, 2014–April 26, 2015 -- Review by David Gibson

The nature of inspiration is intertwined with idiosyncrasies of chance. When something as simple as an air flight layover leads an artist to encounter a single image that alters the course of her creative endeavor forever, one cannot discount the idea of fate. In the case of Gloria Garfinkel, this circumstance led to an ongoing body of work at The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. Garfinkel’s discovery and continued reckoning with an unusual work of art by 16th Century printmaker and painter Utagawa Hiroshige led to an esthetic grounding that motivated her to produce ten successive groups of work; each continuously revisited the traditional modes of Japanese art and design, especially those that have informed modes of dress including the kimono and the obi, a sash used to close it, which itself has different social and economic associations.

Since that day, Garfinkel has devoted herself to an esthetic suggested by Japanese art and design. Her inspir…

Rob Mango "A Retrospective" curated by Robert Curcio at Elga Wimmer Gallery, New York, November 6-29, 2014

The dozen works which comprise the retrospective of Rob Mango each in their own way represent a watershed event in the artist’s development or life experiences that he unknowingly shared with others. If the artist is the representative idealist for our time, believing in ideas and manifesting expressions that are purer and more primal than the product of any other industry or milieu, then Rob Mango is one of the best versions of such a figure. His work is emboldened by the idealism associated with formalism, its relevant social conscience, and a measure of idiosyncrasy, all without equal. Each of the works on view has a specific story to tell.
The Superman Theory (1984-88), is both a cabinet of curiosities and a hall of heroes. It occurs quite early in Mango’s artistic career, shortly after he first moved to New York, a period when he was momentarily breaking with the realistic painting that was his known métier in order to allow himself to be influenced by an alternative set of esthet…