Stephen Rosenberg Gallery

Over the past several years, Sharon Gold has moved on from her rigorously planar abstraction to a shimmering imagery more suggestive more suggestive of landscape and the interaction of organisms. Nevertheless, her previous work is some of the best of it is breed, and, what is more, one can trace in it the origins of her current iconography. This exhibition, Gold’s first at Rosenberg, consisted of paintings from 1981 that, interestingly, have not been shown before in New York, where she lives.

Gold’s hard-boiled constructivist paintings from the mid-to late ‘70s began with an intense effort to bring out a surface. A heavily impastoed underpainting, often in a high-keyed color, would be scalloped onto the canvas with a palette knife or a wider squeegee. Then a more subdued light or dark monochrome would be laid on top in brad rectangular planes, alternating glassy ad matt and demarcated by planar bands of borders. The scalloped crests of the underpainting broke through the surface bringing the undercolor with it. These deeply compelling, post-Minimalist canvases, combining gesture and an elusive light with a geometry that was more intuitive than programmatic.

In the subsequent paintings, the ones in her recent show, Gold knocked the rectilinear partitioning of the picture more off center and began to “float” smaller rectangles or sections of bands in the picture plane. She widened the chromatic range of her surfaces colors to create a quiet yet Hofmannesque “push-pull” between the overlapping and abutting planes. One is reminded of the subtle “breathing “ in John McLaughlin’s planar compositions. Most interestingly, Matisse’s interiors are also invoked, via the luminous movements between light and dark, an also because Gold’s narrow bands – like the off-white Double Eagle – are so reminiscent of light falling on window sills and railings or spilling through cracks in a door. Gold retains the architectural power of Constructivist composition even as she brings it indoors, in effect domesticating it.

As evocative as these paintings are, they never stray far from the no-nonsense materiality of the hardest-core post-Minimalist abstraction. Paradoxically, it is in their very materiality – in particular the undulating crests of underpainting – that one may discern the source of the extended, organic forms that Gold has pursued into the lyrically associate terrain she is exploring today.

Stephen Westfall

January 1988