David Kordansky Gallery
Lesley Vance: 12 Paintings
(May 19-July 1, 2017)
Oxblood, indigo, eggshell; sky blue, canary yellow, blood orange; the smooth knots of innards, the unfurling of silky banners, the gently impossible curves of Mobius strips, the drybrush gesturalism of calligraphy; saturated color blocks and flatly contoured sky ribbons; wet textures of ink and enamel, shadows falling like a trompe l’oeil vignette. All of this and more lives and breathes, writhes and wriggles, loves and laughs in this captivating and compelling suite of new, untitled oil on linen paintings by Lesley Vance. Though each individual work expresses an individual soul (all measure 31 x 24 inches), a connective motif of serpentine interruptions arrays itself throughout the collection, where variations in the lexicon of chromatics and made marks rearrange themselves like conjugated verbs.
Pictorially eccentric—something like Twombly mimicking the Futurists—active and unsentimental, compressed like a botanical or geological cross-section lab sample, these works are demonstrably, objectively, assuredly non-figurative, and yet possess the emotionally evocative organic detail of familiar imagery. At times, the compositions read like enlarged microscopics, extreme close-ups on cursive writing or distressed cellular walls. Vance’s confident deployment of a range of brushwork techniques and surface treatments into optical and graphic puzzles creates strange versions of pictorial space, not unlike O’Keefe in the way abstraction and imagery flagrantly fungibly commingle in their atmospheres.
One quality which makes these works a triumph of formalism ensconced in vibrant aesthetics is the surety and clarity of Vance’s compositional elements, when juxtaposed with the paradoxical dynamism of their own seafaring motion. They are both fast and slow, meditative and gyroscopic, clean and rough, managing to fuse divergent threads of modern abstraction into singular hybrid visions that demonstrate rather than merely illustrate their ideas.