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© ArtNet Worldwide 1997



new york reviews
by michael brennan

richard kreshtool

at gina fiore salon

Richard Kreshtool makes clean work with a dirty surface. The physical geometry of the paper, toothy and absorbent, abutted and joined, frames and contains the imaginary perfection of the shifting rectangular blocks, rendered dark and dirty, rubbed out in paint stick and oil bar. Soft and black blocks appear to scan the paper plane horizontally or vertically. These blocks appear to be in motion, they are not your typical static blocks; Euclidean tombstone spaces frozen and repeated ad infinitum. Kreshtool's geometry is lighter, and light-activated, and he deploys it in a way that suggests the natural world with all of the force and residue that is the result of any natural process in our sphere.

09.96.23 is a gateway to Kreshtool's current work. A narrow vertical flare of piercing but sullied white is flanked by a smoldering ropey black bar to the right, both of which roll under a hazy line into the blanketed atmospheric expanse of the middle section, a shadowy passage of light-riddled relief. This half flows into and against a near-central charcoal colored vertical, which moves forward and away from the black breaking pitch of a looser and lumbering hand, recorded in the falling marks of the shredded space and geometry. All of which is simultaneously set apart from, at the far left, an equal expanse of moldering white. Ultimately, Kreshtool has created a complex register of forms that reflects every fleck and thought he has as he moves from the pure to the impure, hedging and releasing marks and area every step of the way.

09.96.21 demonstrates just how rich his pictures can be. A few constituent parts thoughtfully placed clearly renders the traditional eidetic elements of foreground, middle ground and background. Kreshtool, who is a practicing architect, makes distinct choices because he is accustomed to thinking on his feet in a directed but improvisational manner. This is evident in his drawings. This sort of exchange between response and thought is apparent in 09.96.35, where incident and alteration allow for a concentration in the center that makes that experience much more assertive. This is a risky process because it requires that the artist reflexively jostle structure and space, and not just hide away in the safety of pure process, such as in the blocking and massing paintstick routine of Richard Serra.

Kreshtool paraphrased to me a remark from one of Louis Kahn's lectures: "process is interesting, but process alone is not enough." This comment was placed in a context not unfamiliar to Kreshtool's project, where Kahn is alluding to a return from the measurable to the immeasurable. By moving beyond the literal, Kreshtool expands the capacity for meaning in this kind of Minimal and modern work. In Kreshtool's art, templative drafting table geometries give way to a contemplative organic presence and experience. Here and now, the location is made ready for any connection.

Gina Fiore Salon, 9 MacDougal Alley, New York City, N.Y.

MICHAEL BRENNAN is a New York painter who writes on art.