Loren Munkby Tomassio Longhi
Through June 27, 2002
Loren Munk is a painter who for quite some time has been engaged in a dialogue between the formal language of synthetic Cubism and casual imagery derived from popular culture. In the recent paintings, one is once again taken with his persistent gaiety of spirit.
Like a committed observer of city life, many of his subjects seem to weave together early American modernism and post-contemporary culture. Whether the references are drawn from Stuart Davis’s colonial cubism or new school graffiti, the overall compositions, with their elaborated handmade frames of cut glass mosaics, are constructed by a network of flat shapes and patterns. They are painted thickly and with intense contrasting color, mostly primary colors subordinated with variations of neutral tones. It’s not so much the imagery that is celebrated in Munk’s work, but the sheer physical joy of painting. The painterly surface, the musicality of the color, and the vitality of the form make one want to run up a few blocks to see Alfred Jensen’s spectacular exhibit at the Dia Foundation.
In the back of the space of the gallery is a modest but beautiful exhibit of four Williamsburg painters: Geoff Davis, Chris Martin, Margrit Lewczuk, and Larry Mullins. Both Chris Martin and Larry Mullins are known for their large works. However the two paintings here in the show suggest the more sensuous and intimate side of their sensibilities. While Martin retains his deep interest in esoteric philosophy, Mullins continues to explore the visual repertoire of various forms of ornamental lettering and typefaces.
Geoff Davis is one of a few painters I know whose obsessive nature would dazzle anyone, especially those who are not familiar with his bizarre paintings. The highlight of the show is Margrit Lewczuk’s new work. With the more pared down, almost minimal approach towards primitive form, one witnesses here the remarkable effort of a veteran painter after a long period of gestation. Lewczuk lost most of her life’s work in a recent studio fire, and her new paintings represent an impressive rebirth.
TOMASSIO LONGHI is a contributor to the Rail.