Penny Kronengold Swimmers 2: City College
2001, oi1on linen, 18 x 26 inches
afternoon I was utterly seized by an artist previously unknown
to me. Penny Kronengold's unassuming, modestly scaled bathers,
starting the last week of their short run at the First Street
Gallery, are a must-see.
reproduction she is likely to seem safe and familiar, but
in actuality these paintings and drawings reveal themselves
to be daring and at the same time highly accomplished inventions.
These scenes, mostly of public swimming pools, are perceptually
fresh and authentic, and at the same time deeply invested
with painterly awareness of their genre's forbears. Kronengold's
handling seems to marry southern color and northern drawing.
There is voluptuousness in the paint that is not allowed to
end there, because there is a corresponding intensity of determination
to cram a maximum of observation into a highly energized,
restricted space. The obvious points of reference here are
Bonnard and Kokoschka, but the sense of structure and pictorial
logic encountered in Kronengold stretch much further back
in the annals of Western picture making. The color is a joy,
precisely because it is not that corny useless craftsy thing,
"pure joy". On the contrary, color is marshaled
as a means of drawing, a means of defining form and exploring
space, but in an unpedantic way.
is fond of a whole battery of painterly devices which, in
lesser hands, can breed affectation: sgraffito, exposed canvas,
the complementary bravura effects of a dried up and an overloaded
brush. But her every mark actually seems to add up to something
of pictorial importance. In this respect she is rather like
the great Irish painter - I'm writing this note on St. Patrick's
Day - Jack B. Yeats.
having extolled the perceptual basis of her liberties with
color and form, I have to say that the most satisfying pictures,
to my eye, are the boldest. With two paintings of the same
scene hanging back to back, the one completed first is accomplished,
for sure (it's on the invitation cover, reproduced above)
but the freer, more daring repeat of the same composition
marks an explosion of painterly pleasure.
images by Kronengold
to Front Page