Celebrating with Joanne Greenbaum
Hopefully this burst of intimately scaled creativity by Joanne Greenbaum — as 1612, her first iteration of small-size abstract paintings at D'Amelio Terras (on exhibit through November 12th) — is just the beginning. Greenbaum's masterful grasp of structure and fluidity and her daring, saturated color palette are not stymied by the canvases' decreased dimensions, but rather revel in it, amplifying their intensities. Her performative methodology and resulting salon-style hanging of the 48 works, sprinkled like neon-emitting raindrops about the front gallery's four walls, indeed induces a celebratory vibe. Let's get to reveling. — Brian Fee, Austin Contributor
Joanne Greenbaum | Untitled, 2011, oil, acrylic, mixed media on linen, 16 “ x 12”, Courtesy the artist and D'Amelio Terras, New York
Chicago's stalwart alt-rockers Wilco have a history of choosing awesome LP covers, like the iconic Marina City towers on an otherwise minimal Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Add new album The Whole Love to that list, as it bears a Greenbaum-supplied graphic rendering, plus the deluxe version includes a 52-page booklet featuring her artwork. Greenbaum's new paintings in 1612, all executed in the spring of this year, are a little larger than an LP cover, but only just. While I envisioned Greenbaum's Hollywood Squares exhibition as apt backdrops to a chiptune band — the glowing geometries inundated with dense masses of color, if animated, would scream "8-bit" and pair nicely with a circuit-bent Gameboy — these smaller, untitled works amp that energy even higher. Or deeper, if you will, as she pairs Magic Marker swirls with drips of paint (obscuring the canvas' original orientation, as she may well have flipped it De Kooning-style while working on it and 19 of its neighbors, simultaneously). Despite her interacting with such a quantity at once, the canvases do not bear that printing-press sameness of über-prolific abstractionist Josh Smith. Rather, their respective individualities and uniquenesses are underscored by a strong underlying cohesiveness.
Greenbaum's drawing and painterly techniques are at the fore here. She may obliterate part of a field of shocking rosy marker loops with diluted paint (echoing both Helen Frankenthaler and her "soak stain" kindred, plus more recently Matt Connors' meta-minded abstraction). Or she may combine gestural brushstrokes with ink scribbles in a deceptively straightforward duality. While she joins Thomas Nozkowski and Tomma Abts, at least on an elementary level, in terms of small-scale abstraction, Greenbaum's compositions explode beyond the former artists' more formal architectures. That's not to say her paintings lack intelligibility: even a painting's enlarged color-stain, encroaching in on diagonal green lushness and textural violet gestures, feels deliberate and graceful. That it resembles some mystical rainforest lagoon, or James Cameron's Avatar-style mountain shrouded in fog, only furthers Greenbaum's ingenuity of conception and completion. Her visual vocabulary — that iridescent palette and mixing drips, pours and brushwork with drawing materials — is signature Greenbaum, so despite (or thanks to) her range of output, each canvas is unequivocally, exuberantly hers.
Joanne Greenbaum lives and works in New York City and has participated in numerous group shows in the U.S. and Europe for over fifteen years. She was artist-in-residence at The Chinati Foundation in 2007, plus had solo exhibitions in greengrassi in London, Galerie Nicolas Krupp in Basel, Switzerland (and one planned at each in 2012), and a career survey at the Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich in 2008, which then traveled to Museum Abteiberg, in Monchengladbach, Germany. 1612 is her seventh solo exhibition at D'Amelio Terras.
Brian Fee is an art punk currently based in Austin, TX. His culture blog Fee's List covers his three loves (art, film and live music) occurring in his other three loves (the Lone Star State, the Big Apple, and Tokyo).