Saturday, March 24, 2018

Nobu Fukui and Francois Morellet: Maximal and Minimal

As always, one of the great things about gallery going in New York City is not only that you can see great art, but you can see a great variety of it at any given time even within a small  geographic area. So it is with two exhibitions up now: Nobu Fukui at Margaret Thatcher Projects and François Morellet at Dia: Chelsea. Fukui is the maximalist whose paintings sing with a heady mix of image, color, and texture. Morellet is the minimalist, whose paintings and sculptures whisper with spare lines and repeated elements.

 Details from Nobu Fukui and Francois Morellet

Entrance to Margaret Thatcher Projects, where Nobu Fukui's exhibition, Paradise, is up through April 7 

We start with Fukui. By all means spend some time viewing his paintings from a distance, but go in close to be enveloped by their presence. Fukui is not aiming for a narrative; he creates painted and collaged works that satisfy his sense of color and composition. Nevertheless, given the range of image-rich material he uses, your own sense of narrative may develop as you connect the dots. And I mean dots literally. Floating on the surface—well, embedded slightly into a film of acrylic—are thousands of plastic beads topped with a white-painted dot—which form a dimensional picture plane above the one composed of collaged images. I’ll tell you more as you scroll through the images.  
(Disclaimer: I wrote the essay to his catalog, which can be seen online here

Nobu Fukui, Mythic, 2017, beads and mixed media on canvas over panel; 90 x 90 inches

Front gallery installation view: Pool of Thought and Mythic

Pool of Thought, 2017, beads and mixed media on canvas over panel, 72 x 96 images
Detail below

From the side, the beads are seen as a kind of lens through which we see the composition. At the same time, they form a pointillist surface that hovers above it. The title of each painting comes serendipitously from the newsprint ground that the artist lays down before painting.

View of Mythic (proportions exaggerated by the panoramic lens) and Beautiful Room

Beautiful Room, 2017, beads and mixed media on canvas over panel,  30 x 96 inches
Detail below

From the back gallery looking toward the front: Paradise, the painting that gives the exhibition its title

Paradise, 2016, beads and mixed media on canvas over panel, 96 x 196 inches in four panels
(Make sure your screen is open wide enough to see the horizontal expanse of this image)

Three details below

Images are collaged onto a painted surface, which is overlaid with a layer of clear actylic into which thousands of plastic beads are scattered

. . . . .

François Morellet (1926-2016), about whom I knew nothing before viewing this exhibition at Dia:Chelsea, was a self-taught artist who relied on a reductive formal vocabulary of lines and geometric forms.  Seeing the show in Chelsea, my first thought was how the work was reminiscent of other art I was familiar with: One painting of concentric squares  suggested Frank Stella, another the zig-zag patterns seen in some Josef Albers early work (based on ancient architectural sites in Mexico) on view at the Guggenheim, and still others the earth geometry of Richard Long. Maybe this is just me needing to connect the dots, as I am wont to do. It’s a quiet show with a little humor in the way Morellet skews our expectation of geometry and reductivism. This and a related show in Beacon are up through June 2. 

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(The brochure offers numbered diagrams of each gallery, hard to decipher after the visit, given that Morellet's titles are based on idiosyncratic references. So just look and enjoy. I provide info where I can)

Ligne continue sur 4 plans inclines a 0°, 30°, 60°, 90° (Continuous line over 4 Tilted Planes), acrylic on canvas

Arc de cercle complementaires n°3 (Geometree n° 5C), 1983, wood and crayon

Foreground: 52 x 4 n° 3: cercles et demi-cercles (Quand j'ete petit, je ne faisais pas grand; When I Was Young I Did Not Work This Large), acrylic on canvas and wood

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 A selection of work. The two black and white works below are here shown in the far corner

4 doubles trames 0°, 22°5, 45°, 67°5 (4 Double Grids 0°, 22°5, 45°, 67°5), 1958, oil on wood,
Detail below

2 trames de grillage 12°, 79° (2 Wire Mesh Grids 12°, 79°, 1959, wire on painted wood
Detail below


1 comment:

  1. Love LOVE LOVE the Nobu Fukui works at Margaret Thatcher! So powerful and enveloping! Thanks for the post (enjoyed your essay). Anyone who can go should get there and see these in person.