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Sunday, September 30, 2012

John E. Melecsinsky at the Miss Porter's School Gilbert Gallery Review

Visual Art

John E. Melecsinsky at the Gilbert Gallery, a review by Frank W. Krasicki

The Gilbert Gallery at Miss Porter’s School on 60 Main St. in Farmington, CT is hosting a one-man show of ink drawings, pastels, and paintings from August 27 - September 29.  There are 48 pieces on display and they represent a micro retrospective of the work by one of Connecticut and the nation’s finest living Artists.

John Melecsinsky often prefers to be called John Mel by friends and acquaintances and signs his work JEM.  He doesn’t care for titles either.  The work in the show is numbered but don’t let that fool you.  Many of the pieces have a back story that John is willing to share.

John’s pen and ink drawings are simply exquisite and disarmingly sophisticated.  The work in this show consists of either flowers or nudes.  These are careful studies of flowers aching to bloom,  John captures the moment in which these subjects anticipate opening to the world.  And John’s pen and ink flowers, like Robert Mapplethorpe's Lily photographs and Georgia O’Keefe’s flower paintings, drip with unspoken, erotic irony.  Melecsinsky is a master of line, posture, and a sneaky, subtle abstraction that transforms his subjects ever so imperceptibly.  You’ve never seen flowers. This. Way.

When the subject of his pen and ink drawings turns to the human figure the result is even more interesting.  All John’s drawings are frugal exercises.  The human figure is captured by very few strokes of the pen.  And these strokes are ever so lightly drawn - just enough observational detail to capture the ribs, the toes, the magnificent hands, and the contorted husk of body. These drawings embrace minimalist sentiments even as they softly abstract the viewer’s sense of space.  These are not always single point of view drawings.  Often John’s drawings introduce many individual points of view concatenated together as visually plausible yet impossible visions.

The subject of Melecsinsky’s pastels and oil paintings is often Italian landscape.  A long time ago, John was adopted by Florentines and John’s love affair with Italy is in full display in this show.  John’s Italian landscapes are to pastels what Degas pastels are to ballerinas.  John’s pastel and oil technique is called Divisionism the separation and composition of autonomous dots marks of color that invite the viewer’s eyes to blend the colors - the colors are not mixed on the paper or canvas.

The result is that his pastels shimmer with rare clarity and energy.  His landscapes breathe and have a life. And the color effect is breathtaking.  The pastels are almost shocking in detail.

Melecsinsky no longer paints.  “I just gave it up”, he says with a shrug.  The Italian studies in this show were painted decades ago in this same divisionist technique.  Yet these oils are strangely beautiful.  A number of these paintings exhibit are starkly delineated by incestuous color that curls, twists, and wraps itself within the subject; a garden, a view, or a courtyard.  Divisionist paintings look vaguely Pointillistic but are not.  By the hands of a master artist Divisionism is more sophisticated than Pointillism. These paintings are unusual that way. These pieces belong to an art history yet to be written, an American art retrospective yet to be curated.

Included in the show are works that date back to Melecsinsky’s formative years as a young artist.  It’s a show that illustrates a process of artistic growth and exploration through maturity
and now the peaceful bliss of line drawing and pastel.  John is often a gallery sitter on weekends at the Art League of New Britain where he quietly works on the more painstakingly detailed works surrounded by the artwork of Connecticut’s emerging art scene.  For art lovers who care to meet the artist, he will engage you in enjoying the art in the gallery or relating tales of his latest yearly visit to Florence, Italy.

The reception that was held on September 22, attracted a large, wonderful mix of patrons that included many fellow artists, friends, art lovers, and visionaries.  

Miss Porter’s School website is: www.porters.org and you can call the Visual Arts Department for Gallery visiting hours: 860.409.3701.  The Art League of New Britain website is: http://www.alnb.org .

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monet's Garden at the Botanical Gardens in New York

Saturday (a scorcher) Kathy and I visited the Monet exhibition at the Botanical Gardens in New York.

Sad to say, I found the exhibit disappointing.  This is not to say that visiting the gardens is a waste of time or money.  The Botanical Gardens are a great way to spend an afternoon.

However, the Monet themed exhibit simply did not live up to expectations.  What I had expected was a recreation of the actual gardens.  What the exhibit is is simply an arrangement of flowers that Monet's garden contained.  This is all nicely arranged but unimpressive.

Likewise, there are but two Monet paintings on display.  These supplemented by dozens of enlarged photographs of the painter and his garden.  The photographs of his current garden are bland.  The exhibit also features a BBC video about Monet which is available on YouTube and is a snoozer.

They would have been far better served showing Waldemar Januszczak's superior take on the Impressionists.

Here's a takeaway;






Gustav Klimt at the German Museum

Friday evening, Kathy and I joined some friends in attending the Gustav Klimt show at the German Museum in New York.  As a first of the month Friday evening, the show was free beginning at 7 p.m.

Needless to say, the line stretched halfway around the long city block.  The show is great as was the HEINRICH KUEHN AND HIS AMERICAN CIRCLE: ALFRED STIEGLITZ AND EDWARD STEICHEN exhibit upstairs. A fascinating study of the photographic pioneers.

Rineke Dijkstra At the Guggenheim

This is my informal review of the Rineke Dijkstra Reytrospective currently at the Guggenheim.

I must first disclose that I am rarely a fan of photographic attempts at art.  Unlike just about any other artistic medium, photography is so cheap and easy and voluminous that it seems to drown itself in oceans of ubiquitous mediocrity.

I left the Dijkstra Retrospective a fan of her artistic work and merit.  The images used to advertise this show I think do it a disservice.  The photos of gangling teenagers are inseparable from one another.  Like Warhol, Dijkstra's context is serial.  A single photograph lacks the ambient charisma that viewing a series of these pieces offers.

In one series, Dijkstra's photos of teenagers posing at the edge of a beach present an intellectual sweetness that is hauntingly familiar to adult viewers.  The subjects are all too humanly average. these are not fashion models. These are pictures of the human limbo that teenage immaturity force us all to endure and transcend.  This juxtaposition of teenagers standing on a beach that exists at the whim of nature beautifully complements the natural insecurity that these models in fact embody.  These photos represent an uncertain in-between space and time.  This is the power of these figures.

Another series are a set of videos of young people dancing.  Again, I must confess that I rarely care for art videos.  They demand precious time and often fail to deliver a value add beyond what could have been a still piece well done.

Dijkstra's videos however isolate each dancer in a neutral space that acts as a metaphysical void through which we watch their actions.  And this is key - while their dance is a performance, the performance exists within a documentary set of actions to which we bear witness.  There is a beginning, middle, and end to all of Dijkstra's videos.  The middle sections are what the subjects think its all about.

The beginning and end sections serve to frame and subvert that premise.  The result is neither a narrative nor a story.  These dance videos are studies in the human behavior of young adults - first as self-conscious subjects and then as actors through which the music unleashes the sub-conscious.  The videos are hypnotic and riveting.

My wife and I attended this show together.  Kathy took advantage of the audio headphone commentary device and I chose not to thinking that it would not add value to what I wanted to simply enjoy as an artist looking at other artists.  It was a mistake on my part.  The audio commentary includes interviews with Dijkstra's subjects who talk about their experiences as subjects, what they were thinking, and how they view it now.

Another video installation involves a multi-screen exercise in which school children attempt to explain a Woman Weeping painting (presumably a Picasso) that we as observers never see.  The result, again, is (almost too predictably) fascinating.  But it works and it works well.  A similar video shows up later in the show in which a young girl is asked to listen to her favorite op song.  The girl reveals herself to be most comfortable singing along.  The silences in between reveal the insecurity of self.

There are numerous other series that represent the body of Dijkstra's work and I recommend them all wholeheartedly.  This is an outstanding show.  The fact that it is coupled with Art of Another Kind and the Thannhauser Collection is just all the more reason to prioritize this show when you are in the city.

I found the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit disappointing.  I must remain neutral about the Kandinsky show - he is simply one of my very favorite artists of that period.  Always a treat to see.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

WAH Salon Show Closing

Last week, I managed to captue a few snapshots of the closing hours of the WAH Salon Show.  S. David was there reciting poetry and numerous artists were socializing.  Here's a few pictures of the festivity.

Jeffrey Berman chatting with an unidentified patron

Bienvenido B. Banez

Poet Bogar Alonzo

My entry, Bull Market, lower center painting

Bogar inviting everyone to his poetry reading after dinner

S. David bringing a smile to Yuko

S. David explaining Milton to Yuko

S. David offering a poem about the piece he's pointing to

Thursday, January 19, 2012