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Back to Reviews 96

Bernd Naber, Yellow, n.d., acrylic on canvas

Bernd Naber, Black.

Bernd Naber, Red.

Jamie Dalglish, Aspen Grove, 1996, acrylic & gold powder on birch plywood.

Detail of Aspen Grove.

Jamie Dalglish, God's Tooth

Jamie Dalglish, Pyrne in a Gyre

Maureen Dougherty, Silent Ideal, 1995, acrylic on linen

Maureen Dougherty, The Power of Models 5 & 6, 1996, acrylic on linen

Maureen Dougherty, Radical Mistakes, 1996, acrylic on linen

Detail of Radical Mistakes.

jamie dalglish, 
maureen dougherty 
and bernd naber

at ludmilla baczynsky

by Walter Robinson

There are few things that don't look more 

beautiful in the company of gold and silver 

and precious gems, a point most evident in 

this three-person exhibition, installed in 

the ground floor of a lovely brownstone on 

East 72nd Street. This new gallery of fine 

jewelry and objets d'art is operated by 

Ludmilla Baczynsky, a young Belgian 

aristocrat who is an art dealer as well as 

a jewelry designer and silversmith. To 

inaugurate the painting part of her 

enterprise she presents work by three well-

known downtown abstract painters. 

I paid a recent visit to the gallery with 

the artist Jamie Dalglish, whose 

"levitating morphoglyphs," as he calls 

them, are on view in Ludmilla's intimate 

central gallery. Dalglish is a veteran New 

York painter, showing over the past 20 

years at O.K. Harris, Barbara Braathen and 

other galleries. "In my painting, art is 

the art of becoming art," he said, with a 

convincing tone that didn't sound at all 

cryptic (I wish I could convey it to you 

via cyberspace!). I'd visited Jamie before 

in his lovely 8th Street Studio overlooking 

MacDougal Alley Mews in the Village, where 

he had showed me his morphoglyph series, 

huge square paintings, measuring 96 inches 

square, made up of 96 x 8 inch panels. 

Dalglish considers the 96-inch-square works 

as units as well, units that can be linked 

together into 16-foot-square quatrefoils or 

endless horizontal or vertical combinations 

in what he calls "a continuous, pulsating 

harmonic proportion."

Jamie talks a good story, which is 

essential to artists today. In the front 

gallery he pointed out Bernd Naber's dense 

monochromes, with their "curious weight and 

quiet delicacy." Naber has nine works in 

the show, each its own color and size--

orange, black, white, yellow. The largest 

painting is red. He makes his works by 

piling on the paint and then sanding the 

surfaces down. Naber has for many years 

pursued what can be called the ultimate in 

monochrome painting. He is also a familiar 

figure on the Manhattan streets, which he 

navigates in a sanded-down gun-metal gray 

Impala convertible.

In the large back space are about 12 

paintings by Maureen Dougherty that 

"explore the space between Surrealism and 

abstraction, not unlike the kind of thing 

Arshile Gorky was after in his later work." 

Dougherty and Dalglish live together. She 

works at a movie production company (that 

produced the multi-part Ken Burns 

production, "The West") in a high-powered 

job as bookkeeper. There she also doodles 

on paper napkins, using a fountain pen or 

magic marker, drawing little abstractions, 

columns of numbers, spirals, flowers, seed 

pods, bird shapes. Back in the studio, she 

sets these drawings in gel, where the paper 

all but dissolves, and adheres them to raw 

linen, sometimes with white pigment pushed 

through from the back. The ink is a dense 

blue-black. "like a torch disappearing into 

the fog," Dalglish said. Some of the works 

present a single spiral image, made, Jamie 

told me, using a barbeque grill as a 

template. Others give the impression of a 

palimpsest, or of Leonardo's drawings of 

the deluge. The paintings are deployed in 

diptychs and quatrefoils. 

Jamie has a picture called God's Tooth, 

made of three panels in harmonic 

proportions (one to three), a white panel 

with blue green and yellow that glows with 

aftercolors and vibrates harmonically in 

"different tempos, rhythms, like music." 

God's Tooth is made with colors pressed 

through a screen--titanium white, gold 

powder, gloss acrylic gel medium--which 

oxidized and hardened into a celadon light 

blue. After it was dry, "I hit it again 

with cadmium red light, like a stone 

skipping over the surface." Jamie uses a 

squeegee, and also throws paint with a 

stick. And uses brushes. From the 

structure, he says, arises "a 

scintillating, bracing color. I try to 

achieve that bracing color in every work." 

Another painting, Pyrne in a Gyre, is named 

after a Yeats poem (and means "reel in a 

vortex," like a fisherman reeling in a 

catch). The work has sprocketing on the 

edge, suggesting frames per second, like a 

filmstrip in action. It's colors are raw 

and "abrasive like falling in a bicycle 


The work Morphoglyph, which measures 38 x 

96 inches, creates what Dalglish calls a 

Boschian cinematic time change, with cobalt 

blue, cerulean, gel, light green and gold 

powder, applied and then scraped off in one 

gesture. The impact is "like a big bang." 

The shapes suggest elongated creaturelike 

appendages or hallucinations of a scene in 

a primeval forest.Morphoglyph contains as 

well a white panel like a waterfall. "You 

can call that the tears of the unicorn," he 

says. All of Dalglish's paintings are made 

on wood and suspended on hanging cleats, 

flush with the wall, so that a certain 

amount of raw energy collects around the 

edges, which seem to levitate off the wall. 

"Not closed, but open--hovering on raw 


One particularly alluring work by Dalglish 

is Aspen Grove, a 48-inch square made up of 

individual panels with harmonic proportions 

of one to 12. It's a shimmering vision of 

light green and black mass, a grove, up on 

the surface of a hill. The blacks are clear 

with no muddy overtones, the work sparkles 

with gold powder oxidized in the white. And 

the light green is the color of fall 

leaves. If museums did decent shows anymore 

they would do a big show of abstraction 

called "Aspen Grove" featuring works by 

Dalglish and other contemporary 

abstractions, like the new paintings by 

Gerhard Richter on view at Marian Goodman, 

Warhol's Rorschach paintings and some works 

by Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still. 

Jamie Dalglish, Maureen Dougherty and Bernd 

Naber at Ludmilla Baczynsky Gallery, Aug. 

31-Nov. 1, 1996, 58 East 79th Street, NYC, 

NY 10021. 

WALTER ROBINSON is editor of ArtNet Magazine.

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