2006-01-27 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists Alliance A Primary Exhibition And A New Gallery
by Susan Hartenstein Gallery Happenings:

Rockaway Artists Alliance
A Primary Exhibition And A New Gallery

by Susan Hartenstein
Gallery Happenings:

“Studio Study” watercolor by Janet Dever is part of “Primary Exhibition” coming to Fort Tilden.
“Studio Study” watercolor by Janet Dever is part of “Primary Exhibition” coming to Fort Tilden. A Primary Exhibition is on view from Saturday, February 4 through Sunday, February 26 in sTudio 6 Gallery at the Rockaway Center of the Arts @ Fort Tilden. The opening reception is Sunday, February 5 from 1 to 3 p.m. This appropriately-titled first exhibition of the New Year presents the artist and viewer with the creative power and the imaginative potential of “the limited palette” – a gauntlet picked up by some of the greatest artists in history. The challenge here was to paint a work of art by using only one to three colors – a monochrome, the three primaries (red, blue, yellow) or a combination of any three colors. Each artist in the show met the challenge with flying colors, so to speak. And if you think the range of work is at all limited, you are wrong. Styles differ from photorealism to abstract; temperatures climb from icy-cold to sun-surface hot; venues switch from urban streets to snow-swept wilderness. Come see just how colorful A Primary Exhibition can be. Gallery hours are: Saturdays 12-4 p.m., Sundays 1-4 p.m. and by appointment. For more information call 718 474-0861, email: rock art116@aol. com or visit: www.rocka wayartistsalliance.org and keep watching this column.

Some weeks ago, on the advice of a friend, I recommended seeing the exhibition Egon Schiele: The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky Collections at the Neue Galerie, 1048 Fifth Avenue at 86th Street in Manhattan. Fortunately, I heeded that advice. The exhibit presents approximately 150 paintings and drawings by the Viennese Expressionist, filling two floors of this beautiful new museum devoted to early 20th century German and Austrian art and design. Schiele lived only until the age of 28. In 1918 he and his wife died, three days apart, of Spanish influenza. After seeing the works of Schiele, one wonders where his art would have gone had he lived. His brilliance lay well beyond his great abilities as a draftsman and colorist. In his powerful, emotionally charged portraits and figures there is a hypnotic revelation of an internal complexity of life and thought achieved through external markings, colors, lines and structures. One sees this particularly in a series of drawings done in 1918. The viewer is fixed by the gaze of the subjects’ eyes, pulled into them to plummet into the depths of hidden pains and secret tortures. These inner tempests are at least in part inferred by the lines in the face, which draw the viewer’s vision outward from the orbs, across the face, to contemplate what hurt has resulted in these external manifestations.

Schiele’s use of color becomes more subtle and judicious over the years and is a vital aspect of the power of the work. One can see the influence of earlier artists that include Klimt and Cézanne.

Most of the pieces displayed are portraits, self-portraits and figures, though some are studies, landscapes and allegorical compositions. The third floor of the Neue Galerie is devoted to Schiele’s drawings and watercolors. The second floor contains several oil paintings. The limbs and structures of the figures are elongated and exaggerated in size and shape, heads are often skull-like. The muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons are over-delineated, as though Schiele is trying to emphasize every nerve and sinew; to intensify the human vulnerability of the individual. Even a house (“Single House”) is like a human figure, its structure fragmented and breaking down, folding in on itself.

But we are warned in this exhibit not to over-analyze either the art or the artist; not to read too much about the latter from the former. In a video, gallery co-founder Serge Sabarsky tells us to just accept the work for what it is, and that, despite what we might imply from the nature of his art, Egon Schiele was actually quite normal. Of course, he was also an extraordinary artist whose journey was tragically cut short. Judge for yourself. Egon Schiele: The Ronald S. Lauder and Serge Sabarsky Collections is on view through February 20. The Neue Galerie is in a converted landmark mansion. It contains a book store, design shop and two Viennese-inspired cafés. Learn more about the museum and its exhibitions at: www.neuegalerie.org.

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