Of all the things I ought to write about, I have to skip them for now to write about something else–something I really want to write about.
Anne Seidman‘s exhibit, Touching, at Schmidt/Dean Gallery (until June 7) has already had an outpouring of words: She got a great review from Edie Newhall in the Inquirer when the exhibit opened. And the perfection of Sid Sachs’ amazing essay in the exhibit brochure, I can only aspire to.
Then there’s the fact that Anne is a friend, so who would trust me on this anyway?
Nonetheless, I was so knocked out by Anne’s work in this exhibit, I kept thinking Thomas Nozkowski thoughts as I looked, and he’s one of my all-time painter heroes, part of my pantheon.
Sure, Seidman’s and Nozkowski’s work have completely different aesthetics. Nozkowski has ’50s-design forms nudging each other around his canvases, like cheerful comic television graphics bouncing and interacting on the screen. Anne, on the other hand, has these blocky architectural forms–doorways, windows, alleys, stacked blocks, announcing their presence, sometimes as promises, sometimes with foreboding, and sometimes just as a sense of place and time and atmosphere.
The commonality is in abstract forms suggesting a narrative that exists totally within the work of art, a narrative between the elements in front of our eyes. The narrative is between the shapes, and the colors and the materials, between opacity and transparency, between gravity and balance, between gesture and worked-over areas. It’s between figure and ground as areas struggle to dominate yet always hang in the balance between front and back, edge and center.
But even in this formal, internal dialog, the real world enters. One painting looks like the light at the beach. One painting looks like it has captured a lozenge of light, a la James Turrell. In another, the light and color contend with darkness. Is it inside and outside, or the lit-up rooms and the dark ones? I don’t care. I just want to play with those possibilities.
Whether the subject seems to be a dustup of a bungalow with the Cira Center and Liberty Place, or an almost cheerful wall of bricks (interrupting more provisional fields of color and balancing atop a racing swoosh of white), each element in the paintings hangs by the fingernails, holding on to the balance.
The deliberate irregularity of the elements in Seidman’s work–invading edges, offbeat colors, surprising drips and marks–suggests a defiance of expectation and convention, and a thoroughly original sense of a world so rich that every scintilla deserves our protracted contemplation.
I don’t know that I have said anything that everyone else hasn’t already been said, but I had to say it anyway.