Sideshow Gallery entrance
Richard Timperio's Sideshow Gallery is one of Williamsburg's cornerstone visual art institutions. As early as 1994, Timperio mounted exhibitions in a coffee shop on Bedford Avenue providing a venue for the otherwise under-recognized local artists. Six years later in 2000 he opened his current space familiar to many by its graffiti covered façade and crowded openings where such luminaries as Jonas Mekas, Larry Poons, TODT and Robert C. Morgan have graced the walls and floors.
Sideshow Gallery's current exhibition, Dana Gordon + John Mendelsohn: New Paintings, features the art of two established non-objective artists who operate well within the vagaries of abstraction. Gordon's method is to pit fluid forms against a tight grid of precisely rendered squares. Where the shapes overlap, Gordon changes color to amplify the convergence -- an approach that best plays out in the oil on linen painting Night. Here, the artist employs a quieter, subtler pallet that reminds me of the way eyes adjust slowly in dark or dimly lit spaces, while at the same time, conveying an accord between the otherwise unrelatable patterns.
Dana Gordon, Night, 2013, oil on linen, 60" x 78"
Some Talmud, another oil on linen painting, is executed on a very coarsely textured canvas, which in this instance is the best surface to receive the modulations in color the artist's occasional bristly brush strokes cause.
The few smaller works on paper by Gordon in some ways are more compelling than the larger pieces. As with many studies or preliminary drawings, these few works on paper have more life, more air and the gestures and techniques are freer and more immediate than some of the larger lofty and stiffly rendered oils.
Conversely, John Mendelsohn utilizes a diverse array of methods, approaches and textures, however his pallet is far more basic. He also offers smaller works on canvas paper that I find to be the most intriguing works in the show.
John Mendelsohn, Drawing, 2011, oil pastel on prepared canvas paper, 16" x 12"
In many of these smaller pieces, Mendelsohn applies a layer of primary colors that are covered with what looks to be a thick layer of gel medium. The medium is slightly grooved with a blunt tool leaving an overall 'fluted' look that is addressed later, with color across the upper ridges. This slight elevation or separation in the painted surface causes curious changes in perception prompting the viewer to nose into the work.
John Mendelsohn, Benefaction (detail), 2013, acrylic on canvas, 50" x 34"
In his larger acrylic on canvas paintings Benefaction, Jacob's Ladder, Blizzard of the Blossoming and the Descent series Mendelsohn combs over thin stripes of red, yellow and blue with a white glaze. This effect of partial transparence gives all of these paintings a spiritual component, as if they mark an otherwise imperceptible otherworldly presence. His Illumination series, which consists of concentric rings in a lightly colored field, goes even further to suggest a multidimensional universe that holds, in perpetual motion, all changes, perceptible or not.
Dana Gordon + John Mendelsohn: New Paintings runs through May 12.