TimeOut New YorkRon Gorchov

“Paintings”

Vito Schnabel Gallery

250 Hudson Street at Dominick Street 

May 9 - June 25, 2005

A version of this review appeared in TimeOut New York


Ron Gorchov’s paintings may be easily described as: two abstracted parallel forms on concave stretcher.  The marks, a handspan apart, are both humane and aloof.  The shapes themselves may inspire talk of eyes, of electrical sockets, of animal nostrils, of yin/yang symbols—and here we find the essential strength of the work, which maintains an insistent presence, dignity, all while embracing and defying facile description.

The twelve works in the show range from giant (“Entrance,” 180 x 246 inches) to diminutive (“Labyrinth,” 24 x 34 inches).  The works, as well, span almost four decades—from 1968 to 2005.  It is remarkable how faithful Gorchov has remained to his original vision; the colors and composition of a work completed in 1976, take “Spice of Life” for example, maintain an uncanny fraternity with works completed this year, such as “Somba.”  The assumption that the next show is always bigger, a new step, is entirely absent from the history of the work, which stands through fads and movements with tacit assurance.  

As of 2005, Gorchov’s abstractions return to our attention with a curious immediacy.  Years of a more accepting paradigm has altered the art world; distinctions between pop and representation and abstraction have virtually eroded—probably, for the best.  And yet, the loss of those barriers has created an increasingly apparent void of commitment.  To see one of Gorchov’s first shaped canvases (Untitled, 1968) is to come up against a barrier in abstraction that is startlingly present.  Gorchov’s shaped canvases, which took on a gentler, more hand-hewn feel than the earlier examples, fulfill and justify his images with seamless inscrutability.  While many artists have worked on shaped stretchers over the years, none have matched Gorchov’s delicacy and balance.  The paintings, which command so much authority, are feather light. 

Shown to grand effect in a raw space that itself mimics a previous, longed for era, Ron Gorchov’s paintings enter 2005 limber and nimble.