In planning this exhibition, I sought a decidedly celebratory spirit.
The three participating artists have several things in common, including each having beguin her/his professional life as a visual artist in being a painter, the oeuvre of each importantly involves the use of color, and the work of each is not only very labor intensive, but also revealing of a hard won mastery of the chosen craft.
EOZEN AGOPIAN has joint citizenship in her native Greece and in her adopted United States, where she has received three college-level degrees from New York institutions. Having worked in her natal city, Athens, for many years, she is presently planning an auxiliary studio in the borough of Queens. A lifelong painter, she has worked for several years in two separate, though closely related, investigations. Employing a wide range of scale, she makes paintings in oil and/or acrylic on canvas. In the second body of work, she invokes a third dimension by anchoring to the painted, rectilinear surface (and --seemingly --floating above it) a structure of interwoven, colored threads of cotton and silk, as well as sometimes incorporating cut shards of painted canvas). She will be represented in the forthcoming exhibition by works she calls her “thread paintings”.
The eldest of the three, ALAN KLEIMAN -- a native of Brooklyn and resident of Soho, in Manhattan, for more than forty years -- creates near-monochromatic paintings out of twenty or more individual layers of pigments he mixes, slowly covering the rectilinear surface with oil paint, employing various tools, while simultaneously removing much of the medium through his distinctive, all over drawing. The completed work appears from a distance of six feet or more to involve a single hue, but reveals on closer inspection two or more of the underlying hues. The web-like surface rewards scrutiny from varying distances.
He has worked in this manner since the early 1960’s and should be considered (and honored, I believe) as a pioneer in this country fo near-monochromatic painting.
DIANE MAYO, a native of Syracuse, New York, exhibited in New York City and environs for several years as a maker of small, poetic landscapes inhabited by one or more animals having an enigmatic or mystical presence. In addition to painting intimate still lifes whose quietude echoed for some viewers Morandi’s work. The result of her having accepted in 1984 an invitation to take part in a winter-long course in making ceramic works was a remarkable metamorphosis from being a gifted, sensitive painter to a maker of deeply personal and even more ambitious cermaic vessels and sculpture involving the raku process. Forming by hand these works in the Montauk, New York studio she has occupied since 1979, then firing them in an outdoor kiln, she has explored a fascinating range of structure and iconography - including in recent years classical, often cylindrical vessels which serve as a ground for the exploration of color and pattern, as well as creating “portraits” of an astonishing choice of nature’s creatures, including spiders and praying mantises.
Ms Mayo will be represented by six works from an exciting, new investigation -- asymmetrical, bulbous vessels based upon clay vassels from the Bronze Age Cypriot culture (which are thought by some sscholars to have had both utilitarian and ceremonial purposes). Her life as a painter and a remarkable colorist continues through her constant experimentation with the glazes to these works before the raku firing.
Lesley Heller Workspace
6 June to 6 July 2012
54 Orchard street, south of Grand Street, NYC