Reception Thursday, April 17, 6 to 8 pm
Lori Bookstein Fine Art is pleased to present recent paintings by John Dubrow, April 17th through May 24th, 2008, in his third one-person show with the gallery. The eleven works on display will include three monumental city scenes and a series of portraits of the artist's friends and colleagues.
Dubrow's renewed investigation of portraiture, instigated by a 2006 painting of the French historian Marc Fumaroli, is a synthesis of his scrutiny of the individual with the language of formal painting: pure description is constantly undermined by a simplification of the human form. As in all successful portraits, these works communicate something of the essential likeness of the sitter, but their real strength lies in their reductive insight. In his very working method, Dubrow's latest paintings constitute a reversal of convention. Surfaces are often built up rapidly in their initial stages, only to be later stripped back down to a less articulated state.
Two recently completed New York City landscapes resonate with a heightened planar simplicity which edges towards abstraction, as well as with old preoccupations: light and space. In "Composition (Midday)," a triangular wedge representing the ground plane recedes acutely towards the horizon line, but is also composed entirely of a flattened, sun-specked pattern. The artist, when injecting depth into his paintings, expends equal energy in finding ways to mitigate and even cancel it. The presence of strong geometric shapes, often ambiguous in origin, further completes the fracturing of the image. In the portraits, too, hard-edged forms seem to dislocate the image from its plane, but ultimately provide the key to resolving the composition. In "Bruce" (2007), it is the jarring angularity of the subject's dark jacket against a pale gray sweater, reduced to a flattened L-shaped mass, which achieves this. In "Self-Portrait" (2007), a white shirt, peaking from beneath a maroon sweater, anchors the painting with its boomerang-like shape, and, despite being a nearly unmodulated swath of paint, creates real plasticity.
In Dubrow's new canvases the painting tradition which has always provided the basis for his work is exploited, and exploded in his hands. His freshness of vision shows once again that a connection to artistic precedent does not have to preclude true originality. As New York Observer critic Mario Naves wrote of Dubrow's previous exhibition, "[he] proves that while conservatism in art is necessary, in the end, it's pretty much beside the point. Once we lose ourselves in a work of art, such distinctions are just intellectual distractions and obstacles to our pleasure. The Duchampian herd, puritanical at heart, would rob us of the profoundly sensual joys that art affords. Fortunately, we have artists like Mr. Dubrow to prove that art should not deny experience, but extend it."
John Dubrow was born in 1958 in Salem, Massachusetts. He attended the Camberwell School of Art in London (1978-79), followed by the San Francisco Art Institute (1979-83), where he studied painting under Bruce McGaw and Julius Hatofsky. Since 1983 Dubrow has been based in New York City, but he has worked in Israel, Paris and Puerto Rico. His paintings may be seen in public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Dubois Institute at Harvard University, the Hilton Hotels Corporation, the New Republic and the National Academy of Design. He is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, the National Academy of Design's Truman Prize and Carnegie Prize and the Port Authority World Views Project at the World Trade Center.