There is a balance sought by the work in the show at Unspeakable Projects, at one end is intention at the other chance, between them is an engagement with the everyday. Two small formless paintings (“Lambent Series #32”, 14 x 11 and “Still”, 11 x 14) open the show and hover in this curious inbetween, each with dark blue-black and cool grey paint applied in single transparent strokes over intense magentas and oranges. The palette for the entire show is established in this formal neutral/intense binary. The artist’s gauzy brush strokes float the neutral colors over the more intense hues temporarily containing them, as in “Still” where a saturated blue bleeds over a grey edge.
The paintings appear aloof and unhurried; they are self contained in their disregard for their own status as objects. Art historian Thomas McEviliey defines the sublime as an “immeasurable vastness and uncompromised otherness, (which) dwarfs and threatens to extinguish the individual”. The viewer can feel this in the remoteness of the paintings. Yet, most of the work is at such a modest scale (11 of the 13 works range in size from 9 inches square to 36 inches square) that the viewer dwarfs it, turning the table on the meaning of scale in the sublime. The sublime in our pocket, as it were.
The two large works in the show, “Remain in Light”, 9 x 12 feet and “Untitled”, a site-specific installation with variable dimensions, appear to fall on the ‘chance’ side of the earlier pairing. The materials for both are listed as oil, acrylic and pins on plastic.
The mark-making in“Remain In Light” and “Untitled” reads as graffitied bi-product from the other work in the show: panel preparation that left haloes of overspray , drips that have run down and into diagonal parallel folds, spots where the nozzles of spray cans have been cleaned or a gesture has been practiced. More plastic sheets with found structures of grids are layered and cut to build the composition particularly on “Untitled”. In both pieces meticulously thought out marks and chance operations are combined on an everyday object to transform each into something more.
“Lambent 4” shares some qualities with the larger works, making it necessary to consider why one painting alludes to the sublime, while another alludes to the everyday and if there is a difference. A layer of grey paint covers the surface of the panel, with a series of graffiti like marks wiping away some of the neutral color, revealing oranges, magentas and yellow greens. The grey paint works like the plastic sheet and the marks become a broken grid that echos the overspray haloes in “Untitled.” Because of the similarity of composition, the artist’s transformation of plastic sheet into layers of grey paint and vice-versa, both systems of marks come to bear the weight of intentionality. By choosing the drop cloths and repositioning them within her aesthetic, Ms. Frischmann balances one system of marks with the other. An idea that loses the vast annihilating otherness of the sublime and finds it in simple unexpected acts of the everyday.
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-Contributed by Matthew Marchand