|EARLY BRIGHT, 2016, oil on panel, 36 x 36 inches|
courtesy Alexandre Gallery
GREGORY AMENOFF: MYSTICAL HITS
Gregory Amenoff's paintings betray his sensitive side. Narratives of light and mysticism saturate his works with a kind of fairy dust and elvish magic. Abstract landscapes safe from prying eyes and Google Maps.
They are a noble quest, a torch taken up from the likes of the Arthur Doves of this world, along with his Stieglitz pals Georgia O'Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, and Alfred Maurer. A mineral, vegetable, but less animal space at once intimate and infinite. A place discovered with paint and brush and knife hacked through forests and over tall mountains. The painting in the painting. Not the gratuitous slapdash of pigments on canvas, but marks and colors that mean something, shape something, define and reveal something. Painting that comes from search and exploration. Other worlds. Remote and distant lands. Holy Grails and Aztec pyramids, Patagonian caves and Fountains of Youth. We come upon his paintings with the same surprise and excitement that he does. We become breathless at the sight of them.
And these are places of great power and light, and maybe above all, healing. For him, and for us. Dr Amenoff. Yes. The great and powerful Amenoff. Delivering paintings to the world.
Each painting becomes a diorama of sorts. Open them up and let the show begin. A music box. Wind it up and hear its music. Painting can do this. Painters like Amenoff believe. Otherwise what is the point? This is his gift to the world.
When people throw around the term spirituality when talking about art they are playing with fire, whether they know it or not. Spirituality is about light, yes, but more importantly it is about healing and grace. Grace and healing. In a world where darkness is all around us and the light of the world is dimming, Amenoff finds and passes on the bright light of hope in his paintings. This is the torch from Dove. Is there alchemy there? Yes, paint into paintings that become something powerful for good.
|BEGINNINGS, 96" x 84", 1984, Oil on Canvas|
courtesy Albright Knox Museum
Just over thirty-five years ago(c.1979), I was a young painter and art writer sitting in the art dealer Robert Miller's sunny office high over Fifth Avenue just off 57th Street, and he wanted me to hang on and look at some paintings by a young Boston artist that he was just getting in. Miller lined two or three large, thickly painted, heavily worked, very muscular, churning, branchy, boney, leafy, big bodied abstractions against the wall and asked me what I thought. Flecks of color and light kicking up out of a darkened forest of brave paint. I was impressed. This was the work of Gregory Amenoff. There was a new painter in town.
|“Tramontone”, oil on canvas, Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.|
In those paintings Amenoff offered a bold, dynamic, dramatic and energetic vision of great fire. He took the art world by storm. In the years that followed those heady days of the 1980s, however, the art world has cooled considerably. Painting is not what it once was.
|GREGORY AMENOFF/ SEPTEMBER 2016|
ALEXANDRE GALLERY INSTALLATION
Think of this new work in the big picture and over the long haul. Think of each of these paintings like a hot coal, a hot coal that burns long and bright and can start a blaze anywhere it goes, the whole world over. This is Amenoff's gamble. He has recalculated, he has reloaded. He is older and wiser. These later paintings have a whimsy, a tenderness, a dreamscape cultivated and softened by years of experience and contemplation and musing, of pain and joy and compassion. What spilled wildly from him in his youth is now considered a hundred-fold with each stroke, each breath, each test, each hard lesson learned, each yes or no.
|PINK MOON, 2015-2016, oil on canvas, 44 x 64 inches|
courtesy Alexandre Gallery
There are some small paintings here. Mountains and Garden, 18 x 18 inches. Grotto IV, 11 x 14 inches. Dreamer, Grotto, Early Bright, 36 x 36 inches. Amenoff knows what a good small painting can do (although he can still make a big one*). Maybe he learned this from Dove. Small is relative of course, but 36 x 36 inches, for example, seems like what we might call small these days, especially by Amenoff standards, although it is probably somewhere in between. Tweener. Big enough to be full screen for the viewer from 3 feet out. Can also be well read from across the room. Still, it has that intimate feeling in that it draws the viewer in. This is one of those unspoken experiences in painting, does it make you stand back or make you step in? It is a painting thing. Amenoff has faith in all of those painting things when all around him people are losing their heads that painting is dead again. And again! He has devoted his life blood to this notion that painting not only matters, but that painting makes a difference, that painting brings us light and hope and grace and courage and fire and so on.
So when you're beaten down from that Netflix binge and have put aside your iPhone, or when your wifi disappears and cuts you off from the world, sidle up to an Amenoff mystical abstraction and warm yourself.
Spring Hill, September 10, 2016
GREGORY AMENOFF: New Paintings
Reception for the artist Thursday, September 15 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm
On View September 15 – October 29, 2016
Alexandre Fine Art Inc
724 5th Avenue
4th FloorNew York, NY 10019
Catalogue available with text by Stephen Westfall