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The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 19-JAN 20

All Issues
DEC 19-JAN 20 Issue
ArtSeen

Stephen Antonakos: Late Light Gold Works 2010–2013

Stephen Antonakos, <em>Terrain #3</em>, 2011. Gold leaf on Tyvek, 17 x 14 inches. Courtesy Loretta Howard, New York.
Stephen Antonakos, Terrain #3, 2011. Gold leaf on Tyvek, 17 x 14 inches. Courtesy Loretta Howard, New York.

New York City
Loretta Howard Gallery
November 21, 2019 – January 17, 2020

This past Friday the 13th of December, in the dismal rain, was a deliciously gilded day for anyone who went to Chelsea to contemplate the undismal sheen of these “late light gold works.” Created late in the life of Stephen Antonakos, and luminous, all these radiant outpourings and inpourings of a sun inside a mind shine forth.

The words “crumpled gold leaf” came rushing to my mind instantly as I stood next to the series of Terrains—what a word is “crumpled,” in all its destructive possibilities. Here, its implicit expansions are on display. These stunning works, labeled Terrains, presume a preliminary action of the hand—the “manus”—so this handcrafted display of golden beauty is the result made manifest. As Robert S. Mattison puts it in his truly lovely preface for the catalogue, “Throughout his career, Antonakos had made drawings with cuts, creases, and crumples.” It was always, then, about handling the object. Conferring on it an implicit dynamism, the artist was preparing the terrain for a meditation, and in that Meditation Chapel, of which a 2011 model is included in the show, there are windows to look through, mingling the thought and sight of outside and inside.

Stephen Antonakos, Untitled Chapel Model, 2011. Gold paint and white paint on wood, plexiglass case, 12 x 14 1/2 x 12 inches. Courtesy Loretta Howard, New York.
Stephen Antonakos, Untitled Chapel Model, 2011. Gold paint and white paint on wood, plexiglass case, 12 x 14 1/2 x 12 inches. Courtesy Loretta Howard, New York.

The standing white cross by the chapel says exactly what it says, and to this observer, that is one of the true joys of the creations of Antonakos, that there is never over-stating of what is sufficient in itself. Look how the glorious crumplings of gold leaf resound in themselves, even as they project towards us: this is golden speech itself, about seeing as well as hearing. inward and outward, as if this late light were a privilege to be shared with all of us, whatever our age.

We might mindfully sail to Byzantium alongside these works, or within them, as with meditations in some chapel of our own dwelling, or then indwell in some association with the splendidly late but not tragic words about those so early rising sun reds leading to those so resonant latterly gleams.

Not such dismal weather, given the gold of this late light.

Contributor

Mary Ann Caws

MARY ANN CAWS is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature, English, and French at the Graduate School of the City University of New York. Her many areas of interest in twentieth-century avant-garde literature and art include Surrealism, poets René Char and André Breton, Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury group, and artists Robert Motherwell, Joseph Cornell, and Pablo Picasso. Conceptually, one of her primary themes has been the relationship between image and text.

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The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 19-JAN 20

All Issues