“Corrupted Formalism”

julia rommel

Julia Rommel uses color to great effect in works like “Volvo 240,” 2019. Credit Julia Rommel and Bureau, New York.

I ponder what exactly the relationship between professional critic and working artist is. I, of course, am neither — a nosy bystander at best. I’m aware glancingly of debates in the professional art community about who says and does what. Sounding off  from my provincial redoubt feels daring, if not foolhardy.

But fools venture. It’s hard not to fall, first of all, for “Candy Jail,” the title of artist Julia Rommel’s fourth show at Bureau, a New York City gallery.

Second of all, I’m seduced by art critic Roberta Smith’s statement that Rommel “continues her brand of corrupted formalism, exploring ways to revivify Minimalist abstraction with a non-Minimalist, piecemeal sense of process.”

Say what you will, that statement has loft and verve.

This one lands smoothly: “… Ms. Rommel’s color is as beautiful as ever, especially in simpler works like ‘Volvo 240,’ where two orange squares both divided by and edged in green rivet the eyes.”

(Roberta Smith, “Spring Gallery Guide: Lower East Side,” NYTimes, 4-26-19)

(c) 2019 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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2 Responses to “Corrupted Formalism”

  1. Eric Wayne says:

    I kinda’ think Richard Diebenkorn covered a lot of this same territory at certain periods, in his more abstract and formal moods: https://www.artbasel.com/catalog/artwork/29957/Richard-Diebenkorn-Untitled

    I quite like that people are making light-hearted abstract paintings that are mostly just visually appealing. Not enough going on for my tastes — a bit like “space music” — but, it’s pleasant and at least it’s not hammering home a political agenda.

    • JMN says:

      Wow, you’re right on point about Diebenkorn. The link you provide makes it apparent. Astonishingly so. I like the rest of your remarks, too. The mention of “space music” is good. A critic who talks resonantly about work that’s new to me tends to warm me up to the work.

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