Peter Blum Gallery is pleased to present Abstracting Representation, an online group exhibition that brings together individual paintings and drawings spanning from 1949-2020 by seven artists: Paul Fägerskiöld, Helmut Federle, Alex Katz, Esther Kläs, David Rabinowitch, David Reed, and John Zurier.
Although from diverse backgrounds and generations, each artist demonstrates through these works their unique visions of abstraction that emerge from representational elements and influences, whether they be architecture, landscape, Baroque art, or the human form. Please click "Inquire" below the artwork details to contact the gallery for more information.
"I use the language of landscape painting. The formats, the paint, and the application of the paint and colors. But the shapes painted are simplified, unspecific, geographic, abstract, and somewhat arbitrary. Leaving a space between the language of depiction and what is actually pictured."
— Paul Fägerskiöld
"The surface is broken with thick brushstrokes and textures. I put a lot of old dry paint into the paint of the smaller works, making the surface topographical and geological. This makes the monochrome surface less static and even less monochromatic. Structured paint also makes the painting more material."
— Paul Fägerskiöld
"In Fägerskiöld's paintings, issues of formal reduction converse with issues of dimensionality. Fägerskiöld's flat shapes claim their status as impregnable painted constructions. His paintings reminds us once again that painting’s flatness is at once a limit and a cause for reverie."
— Wen Tao, Paul Fagerskiold: Flatlands, The Brooklyn Rail, 2019
"I do in fact handle the abstract vocabularly with the same emotionality and the same symbolization as if I would paint a landscape. Often these abstract works are based on realistic ideas - or not."
— Helmut Federle
"A sense of balance pervades Helmut Federle’s work: a masterful push and pull of opposing pictorial means that demands our attention from the outset without ever fully gratifying it."
— David Mistelli, Helmut Federle: Kunstmuseum Basel, Artforum, 2019
"Federle 'finds' his proportions in the interplay of feeling and intellect, yet the starting point is always the feeling, never the cool calculation. The rational does have its place within his creative processes, but - as he empahsizes in his notes - it may never predominate and obstruct the view onto 'the whole."
— Eva Badura-Triska, Helmut Federle 5 + 1, 1990
"Everything in paint that's representational is false because it's not representational; it's paint. We speak different languages and have different syntax. The way I paint, realistic is out of abstract painting as opposed to abstract style. So I use a line, a form, and a color."
— Alex Katz
"His small landscapes are personal, both in their size and in their gestural, painterly language. In them, Katz produces brushstrokes with short movements, like pen strokes, as opposed to the sweeping gestures he creates by fully extending his arm across the surface of his large canvases, which he descirbes as more 'physical' and 'concrete.' For that reason, the small paintings seem intimate and autographic."
— Michael Rooks, Alex Katz, This is Now, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, 2015
"What took [Katz] outdoors was a summer scholarship to the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, in Maine, which he attended in the summer of 1949. Students went out in trucks every morning to paint the Maine landscape. Katz had never done direct painting—looking at something and painting it on the spot, with no preliminary sketches. He also discovered Maine light, which struck him as richer and darker than the light in Impressionist paintings."
— Calvin Tomkins, Alex Katz's Life in Art, The New Yorker, 2018
"I move step by step, spread, come back. Jump Forward. Leave behind/discover new forms. Use them."
— Esther Kläs
"For Kläs, drawing and sculpture are both registers for the body. Her irregularly shaped resin totems are analogues for the human form, while her drawings, with their vestiges of action and movement, offer indexical signs of the absent figure."
— Veronica Roberts, Drawing Redefined, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 2015
"Esther Kläs's works, which are reduced to as little as necessary to communicate, are close to yet removed from reality. The dynamics of objects in groups are explored, as is the movement of the body in space in connection to drawing and performance. Kläs often creates human-scale ensembles that seem governed by their own internal and external logic."
— Nicola Trezzi, Esther Kläs: Start, The Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, 2019
"A work is intelligible by virtue of its relationship to other works (formal aspect). A work expresses truth by virtue of its relationship to nature (tragic aspect)."
— David Rabinowitch
"Rabinowitch initiated the series in 2008 when he first visited the Périgord region of southwest France and sketched the area’s Romanesque ecclesiastical architecture...The drawings are rich in material and structural complexities. Overlapping and intersecting, the components broker a visual accord between plane geometry and unremitting flatness on the one hand, and the stout walls and massed volumes of Romanesque architecture on the other. Small, exciting observations accrue with time."
— Marcia E. Vetrocq, David Rabinowitch: Périgord Construction of Vision Drawings, The Brooklyn Rail, 2019
"But this is what very good artists are supposed to do: use the past to bring about the present — in Rabinowitch’s case, a visionary one. Visionary art is often understood as having sprung, fully formed, from the artist’s head, but the truth is that Rabinowitch is a remarkable craftsman who painstakingly constructs his imagery. As a result, another merger exists; the artist uses traditional tools to communicate a new way of seeing."
— Jonathan Goodman, Ancient Tools for a New Way of Thinking, Hyperallergic, 2019
"We are used to observing ourselves from both inside and outside our bodies simultaneously. Baroque painting dealt with these out-of-body sensations as religious experiences, sometimes ecstatic, sometimes terrifying; today we live such experiences, often unexamined, through images on screens, as a part of our everyday lives."
— David Reed
"I would make my notes on those sheets about my plans for the next day and anything else I thought was relevant for the painting. Those pages turned into these drawings. I had been drawing all along, but I didn’t know it. I had an academic view of drawing from my training at the Studio School. I thought that I needed to stop and figure out a way of drawing, but I didn’t. I just needed to look at what I was doing."
— David Reed
"Reed’s work has always been marked by a peculiar lushness manifesting itself in ribbons of variegated color unfolding at a seductive pace. The baroque forms often intertwine in dense configurations against flat solid-tone photo-like backgrounds."
— Barbara A. Macadam, Baroque Noir: David Reed at Peter Blum Gallery, New York, ARTnews, 2016
"I am looking for a light that is in the back of my mind. It’s something I have seen that defies articulation. It’s precise and it’s fragile, and I never know when it will appear. I am interested in the gap between abstraction and evocation, between what is determinate and indeterminate, direct and suggested. I hope the paintings can be seen as both austere and poetic."
— John Zurier
"Mr. Zurier’s paintings are acts of full disclosure; you see every decision, gesture and mark that went into their making. This is true of many foundational postwar painters, especially Jackson Pollock and Robert Ryman. But Mr. Zurier’s process is more intuitive and personal. No detail of a painting determines any other; you absorb each, oddity by oddity, fitting them into the whole, and into the experience of really looking."
— Roberta Smith, Galleries, The New York Times, 2017
"Zurier generously offers us example after example of painting imbued with exquisitely nuanced demonstrations of its own possibility. Those nuances show in detail why no other medium is capable of providing comparable experience...Zurier's art sheds light on all that came before it but that it is not, while emitting light in corners of abstract painting yet to be fully explored."
— Robert Storr, John Zurier: Painting Between Autumn and Spring, 2015
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*All works are subject to availability; all prices are subject to change.
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