Back in Chicago for the summer I attended the opening of a new show at Linda Warren Projects, which included a dozen works by the New York City-based painter Glenn Goldberg. While at the opening I sought to have a conversation with the artist. When I found him he was surrounded by and in conversation with three women giving me more time to experience the sweet, seductive appeal, and intoxicating tender calm imparted by these paintings.
The elements of these pieces are drawn from a narrow range of symbols that could have fallen flat as clichéd; mandala-flowers, kissing doves, flowers with clearly etched leaves and stems, all built out of carefully painted and layered dots against washes of mostly milky-white, gray and pale blue. The representation straddles the flat graphic and the sense of a landscape with no definite spatial orientation, letting the viewer know that we are entering a symbol-driven world; a world that simultaneously evokes both the innocence of something doodled on a teenage girl's notebook and the grand magical and archaic realm of the archetypal mother. The apparent simple charm and pleasant color are the invitation; however, as the viewer lingers the simple tree trunks transform into something akin to tribal totems. The mesmerizing dot matrix into and over meaningful shape, recalls Aboriginal painting, another tricky edge that Goldberg successfully pulls off, and in that spirit becomes a magical invocation of creation itself. The petals of the mandalas terminate in nipple dots transforming the rotund petal forms into hieratic breasts. The washes of pale white and hypnotically rolling waveforms of the ground suggest fields of milk reinforcing the dreamy sense of mother realm. The incantory power of the mark making and veils of gauzy paint are handled with so much care and love that the sense of having been granted a glimpse into a ritual world is overwhelming and completely convincing. Executed with delicacy, grace and subtlety these paintings could only emerge from a finely tuned eye born of many years in front of the canvas and from the conviction that painting still has the power to transport us to the realm of magic and by doing so, transform our consciousness. Glenn Goldberg is on view along with Juan Angel Chavez at Linda Warren Projects, Chicago until August 18th.
Glenn Goldberg, Third Fable, 45"x90", 2012, Acrylic, Ink and Gesso on Canvas