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Back to Reviews 96

 New York,
Summer, 1995
Photos Courtesy
Lawrence Markey
(All works have
the same title)

© ArtNet Worldwide 1997

jerry zeniuk
at lawrence markey

by Michael Brennan 

Jerry Zeniuk's monochrome paintings of the 

`70s consisted of soft, uniform planes of 

color. Over the years, from painting to 

painting, he has gradually and 

systematically fractured then disassembled 

the picture plane, while his choice in 

color shifted from moody ochres and mauves 

to highly pitched primaries. In the '80s, 

Zeniuk was associated with the Radical 

Painting group, an international circle of 

concrete abstractionists whose members 

included Marcia Hafif, Joseph Marioni and 

Gunter Umberg, among others. Although he 

still maintains many of the constricted 

conventions of monochrome painting, Zeniuk 

makes paintings that remain surprisingly 

open poetic outbursts of what could be 

described as torn color structure. 

This latest show consists of works on paper 

which, though modestly sized at 22 1/2 by 

30 inches, seem large for watercolors. The 

interior scale of the broadly stroked bands 

of color add to their sense of largeness. 

The paint is applied freely, and sometimes 

a darker tone is painted into a lighter 

one, or an uncovered patch of paper bites 

at the interstices. Zeniuk's direct 

handling of the paint again adds to the 

feeling of openness, but his deliberation 

causes tension at the edges. The friction 

between the planes of color may be the 

result of some sort of procedural 

restriction the artist has placed on 

himself, such as only using as much paint 

as fits on a brush for one area of color. 

Although the color spaces float passively, 

each area seems to chafe against another 

until they ultimately, and mysteriously, 

interlock. The color itself, even at its 

warmest and most fluid, seems thinly 

brittle and mighty bright.

Zeniuk has been steadily disrupting his 

paintings' surfaces since the `70s, and 

these latest watercolors seem to represent 

his extreme cleaving of the concrete. He is 

one of few artists who has found his way 

through and out of the pure monochrome, and 

these paintings account for his development 

as a disciplined and facile artist. It is 

interesting how generous these paintings 

appear, particularly in light of their 

context. They are not concerned with 

providing strategized solutions. These 

paintings in their incomplete manner allow 

the viewer considerable room to move about, 

and perhaps even enter these works more 


Lawrence Markey

55 Vandam Street, New York, NY 10013

April 6 - June 15, 1996.

Michael Brennan is a New York painter who 
writes on art.

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