Anita Shapolsky Gallery
The Abstract Expressionist Tradition
The development and continuation of Abstract Expressionism in America is exhibited by the pioneer accomplishments of these masters in their explorations of gestural and geometric rhythms of space and color where intellect and emotion is rendered in absolution.
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Ilya Bolotowsky, who emigrated from Russia as a child, had a legendary career, which involved painting, sculpture, mural production, as well as teaching and also filmmaking. He found that the geometric discipline of the cerebral Neoplasticism, as exemplified by Piet Mondrian, was a way to express his desire for a dynamic equilibrium. In the 1950s, he achieved a sophisticated balance of linear spatial divisions and striking color tonalities. As reiterated by one critic, Bolotowsky was known for "commanding a design sense of such power and flexibility."
Ernest Briggs studied at the radical West Coast oriented California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco with a faculty that included Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt and Clyfford Still. Moving to New York in the mid-1950s, Briggs was accepted as a member of the New York avant-garde. He developed a rugged and almost volcanic esthetic of painting, interpreting nature as a cataclysmic force. The powerful rhythmic compositions of Briggs' paintings have a dynamic strength unequaled during their time.
Nassos Daphnis, who came to New York in the 1930s from Greece, is a pioneer in the development of hardedge geometric abstract painting. His reductive color, line and plane approach which he developed into his "Color Plane" theory in 1955, was preceded by a period of biomorphic abstraction in the 1940s. These organic compositions that convey a prophetic quality, evoke the essence of the life-giving energy of the sea. The sensuous undulations of forms, the soft color tonalities and linear arrangements are expressions of a rhythmic order, which is still the basis of his work today.
Michael Loew, an influential figure of the New York School, painted murals for the WPA project in the 1930s, taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York City for 27 years and was part of the Monhegan arts community in Maine for three decades. Always inspired by nature, Loew maintained a soft and sensuous approach to geometric abstraction even though his works became increasingly hard-edged over the course of time. Works like Spatial Dialogue, 1983 (invitation card), in which grid-like arrangements of color bars evoke musical sensations or coded references to scientific color harmonies, show his commanding ability to orchestrate color that continues to dazzle the eye and entice the intellect.
William Manning transcends physical space by combining light and color into illusionistic painting constructions that are at once translucent and opaque. The exoticism of the ink washes, rugged patches of color and crispness of planar forms in his work recall the landscape of his native state of Maine. Manning translates the sensation of a forest, the tranquility of a rock garden, the reflection of sunlight on shimmering leaves, which can be seen as meditations upon nature in utmost harmony.
Thomas Nonn, who came to New York from Hungary in the 1960s, is a consummate matter painter. He blends canvas, wood, metal and pigment into elegant compositions that have an architectural bent. Appealing to the tactile sensibilities, Nonn allows the materials to retain their essence while becoming part of the greater evolution of the whole. In fact, the beauty of Nonn's work is the subtlety of color change, which occurs over time due to oxidization of the metallic materials.