In addition to his spontaneous brushstrokes, Blakelock explores a decalcomania-like technique of load, press, smear, and lift. This emphatically material-based process creates a raised, textural web of paint activity with a few scattered reds, oranges and yellows flecking a surface that is eerily similar to Jackson Pollock’s and as interesting to ponder.
Working outside the gallery system, these artists made single-evening exhibitions, often in their own studios, issuing manifestos with these events. While some artists involved with Zero, like Lucio Fontana, are well recognized in America, this is the first survey of the lesser-known group in the States.
Woman Holding Tablet (1946) pleasingly and convincingly locates a seated figure within a geometric environment, with ochre tints and warm blacks set deftly against notes of bright coral and medium blue. The rather strenuous engineering of the pose and surroundings, however, give the impression of an exercise – a demonstration of the plastic re-creation of a generic event.
The grainy, opaque paint surfaces and austere earth palette bespeak an unfashionably non-ironic desire to produce ‘quality’ paintings. And there are learned references and quotations from art history and photography.
At first the eye is fooled – one thinks one is looking at silvery photographs of sublime cloudscapes shot from an airplane above an uninhabited wilderness. Closer examination reveals the patient, expert mark of the hand, as well as an improvisatory richness of imagination that, while consistently illusionistic, is decidedly otherworldly.
A “pink lady” is a cocktail made with gin, Grenadine, cream and egg white—the gin packs a punch masked by the more ladylike ingredients. The punch in this painting lies in how its image, suggesting (among much else) an orchid and a human heart, boils upward and outward, from its slate-blue core through the billowing peach and fuchsia of its sides to the splattering blast of blue and reds at the top.
Much of Winsor’s originality derives from her enigmatic yet evocative treatment of form, which conceals as much as it reveals.
Miguel Trelles at the Gabarron Foundation Carriage House Center for the Arts
Throughout this retrospective selection of her work, one senses in Matthiasdottir a luminous reserve – a private temperament joyfully submitting to an exacting task. We’re rewarded with extraordinary evocations of the observed.