Daniel Weinberg’s four-person painting show will have spanned over two months once it winds down on August 22nd, more of a function (hopefully) of being lean & mean in very slow times than a sign of something more economically sinister. Weinberg Gallery's a veteran space from the early 70s with a history, unbroken here, of being the LA gallery for New York artists.
“Paintings” is firmly a painter’s painter type of show, not entirely safe for those last holdouts of the anti-painting cabal. And it shows a full range within the gestalt, from the mystical and found/scavenged (Martin), to the playful (Masullo), to the pseudo-mathematical (Siena) to the viscerally beyond (Tetherow). It’s surprising how little crossover there is in the range of this group. James Siena’s work pops out amidst good company for its graphic forms and meticulous techniques, not to dismiss just how challenging Siena’s carefully wrought intricate patterns are– the mazes, the almost-infinitely repeating oblong circles, the Endless Loop. These elaborate arrangements of shapes capture a subtle dialectic between both perfect imperfections and imperfect perfections.
The late Michael Tetherow’s two offerings provide a couple of modest surprises: thickly built-up acrylic paint (as opposed to the expected oil), and something you may not catch: the small holes peeking behind the paint in the canvas are intentional, not a byproduct of aging- they are apparently eye holes. In regular gallery light, these subtleties are easily overlooked, and the late Milton Resnick was aesthetically more effective with his impastos.
Not that the other painters are wimps , but Chris Martin comes off as the macho guy in this bunch. He channels the serial grids of painter Alfred Jensen and a cross-section of multiple folk artists mixed with high abstractionists such as Brice Marden and company. At times Martin can dole out more quaint charm and folksiness than a viewer can handle, overly moist and dripping with self-expression. But more often than not – and Untitled and Communicating with the Dead bear this out – he’s a good painter, in that partly hermetic, partly intuitive way that doesn’t necessarily defy description, but doesn’t encourage it either. As Masullo himself, in response to a request for a press release blurb for a solo show he had this past spring, put it: "Just think of all the things usually found in a press release and do the opposite. Mention very little, no interpretations or anything. Make it understated. A short summary of the paintings could be something like this: He painted them."