Untitled c. 1940

servetar selects
by stuart servetar

Charles G. Shaw
at Joan T. Washburn

Jan. 15-Feb. 22, 1997

I often visit the gallery building at 24 West 57th Street in the hopes that Snyder Gallery will unearth some underexposed geometric abstractionist from the `30s or `40s. This time one popped up a few floors higher. Charles G. Shaw, whose work has been seen in group settings at Snyder and in the Guggenheim's Abstraction (or was that Distraction?) exhibition, is here featured alone. His awkward biomorphic abstractions and late synthetic Cubism make a case for his remaining underexposed, although the large clunky biomorphic painting that headlines the show is interesting in that it could easily pass for a goofy pomo piece. However, a good case for his not remaining underexposed is made by several cigar type boxes overpainted and mounted on self-made frames or set standing slightly ajar on pedestals. These boxes, despite their somewhat gloppy surfaces, have an elegance and a snap all their own and point to a lost thread in American painting. Likewise his freestanding wood piece overpainted with a clean triangle and attendant shapes in lovely, rich tones.

Joan T. Washburn, 20 West 57th Street, New York, N.Y. 10019