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U & ME, 1995




















































































































































































U & ME, 1995



















































































































































































U & ME, 1995



















































































































































































U & ME, 1995
 



milton resnick 
at robert miller 

by John Zinsser 

It's always apparent when painter Resnick 
is having a show at Miller. The oil paint 
fumes hit you as soon as you get off the 
elevator. That's the result of his 
trademark thick and mottled surfaces. At 
79, a survivor of the true Abstract 
Expressionist generation, Resnick is the 
type of painter's painter that attracts 
misty-eyed followers (one such young man 
stared reverently at a single painting the 
whole time I was at the show). In the 40s 
and 50s Resnick worked in a vein that came 
directly out of Arshile Gorky and Willem 
DeKooning, biomorphically-charged works 
activated by charged brushstroke. By the 
70s and 80s, the all-over surfaces became 
denser, the colors closer in value, the 
build-up of paint thicker. The 
agglomeration of deep earth tones suggested 
that the paint's physical materiality had 
become a kind of nature in itself. This 
current show is Resnick's second in which a 
figurative motif has been introduced. All 
five paintings are titled U + ME(all 1995, 
oil on canvas). Each medium-large work (the 
largest 71 x 117 inches) depicts the same 
archetypal scene: two blocky figures 
flanking a truncated tree. In some, an 
undulating serpent appears. As Resnick has 
noted in an interview, the scene is of the 
primordial Adam and Eve. The background 
fields remain true to Resnick's trademark 
style, horizonless expanses of browns, 
prussian blues, dusty yellows. The figures 
simply float over this like gingerbread 
cookies, highlit with shocks of impasto 
white. They seem to have very short arms, 
or maybe they've been violently lopped-off. 
The tree is similarly stunted. Emotionally, 
the paintings resonate a sense of death 
approaching. It's allegory passed off as a 
Beckettian tableau. Despite their 
primitivism, they have none of the 
brutishness of, say, Georg Baselitz. 
Rather, Resnick seems to be feeling the 
pull of the old man abstractionist drawn 
back into the figuration of youth. 
Precedents for this form of 
latentbiological determinism can be found 
in the late Jungian black enamelpaintings 
of Jackson Pollock and the cartoon-
influenced images of late Philip Guston. 
It's as if you have to return the figure if 
you want to get into heaven.


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