Currently on at Canada Gallery in New York, artist Robert Janitz returns to his particular style of abstraction, utilizing unique tools and techniques to create geometrically-inspired, colorful compositions. The artist, who has long used loping, gestural forms in his work, here draws new inspiration from the confines of the canvas as a defining element in the production of the pieces.
The centerpiece of the show is formed by a series of five vertical paintings that together become one horizontal work. They are marked by long strokes of color that clash against or blend into rainbow-like grounds. The dark calligraphic marks are ambiguous as to what, if anything, they portray, but make much of work’s implication at modes of writing or symbol formation, a trope in the artist’s work that here takes on new components and iterations. Gradients fade from the left to right of the canvas, and the pieces are marked with depictions of three-dimensional openings at the end of gestural strokes that seemingly turn the long painterly strokes into pipes.
Utilizing a squeegee to remove wet paint, the artist’s work on these canvases creates strokes with little surface weight, which he seems to add back with added shadows to imply volume. This method of illusionistic painting, which centers on abstract gestures rather than trompe l’oeil depictions of real space, further complicates the artist’s practice here. His hazy color and composition here creates a hazy, saturated atmosphere, and the “letters” that dominate their space give an architectural reading.
The show also features the varied output of Janitz’s studio and includes a sculpture, and portrait format painting, (which he refers to as a volcano) and a painting of two torqued slabs. Through color that is hazy and saturated, we can imagine the paintings as a series of bookshelves, or perhaps, as musical notation. The architectonic letterforms that fill the paintings feel like the spines of books waiting to be pulled and opened. The flow of color, traversing the surfaces like text on a page, gives the painting temporal rhythm, as if the process of reading is somehow depicted in the gradients and smudgy glyphs. Like drifting off with book in hand, we find ourselves suspended between language and image, between concrete reality and the unconscious.
The show closes January 22nd.
– D. Creahan
Robert Janitz at Canada [Exhibition Site]