November 3 – 28, 2015
Opening Receptions: Thursday, November 5; Saturday, November 7
There is something both blunt and subterranean about the new work of artist Alan Peckolick, an internationally known type designer who has taken a leap of faith in leaving behind his considerable (and highly successful) love affair with letterforms to explore the evocative power of figures and objects in situations as often unsettled and unsettling as resolved.
The closer we examine each piece, the more our pleasure is joined by a hint of unease. Take The Vegetable Stand – one of the brightest paintings in the show. Juicy reds and oranges and swelling, bouncing spheres make a jolly first impression, but the vegetable seller’s face has been replaced by a hat jarringly vertical to the picture plane, and his muscular arm plunges a knife in – through? – the center of the painting. The Guitar Player is lost and still, silenced by the dark and the booze, although the lovely curves of his instrument sing out as they are repeated in the flowing lines of his arm and shoulders and the pink outline of the chair. Railyard Jesus is called into and out of existence by the steam of the train and the skew of the telephone poles. Even the most purely joyful work in the show, Angel, portrays a luminous figure both rising and falling at once – surrounded by a lovely blue and purple sky etched with barbed wire stars – into or out of deep blue blacks of the top right corner that are both soft and a little ominous.
Technically, Peckolick finds his figures in the thick, scumbled buildup of paint on paint; as color and form and light emerge they struggle with each other until they cohere. This artist didn’t have this all thought through when he faced his blank canvas. His figures and situations are a little raw, alive and hard won.
And always there is an idiosyncratic quality of the light (including the quality of the night). Whether it’s the thin, watery light of The Swimming Pool, the thick, white, light-as-substance on the wings of the Angel, the bar blue light of Last Call, or the lurid, jangling light of The Bar – each painting gets the light it deserves, the measure of its power.
You can see where Alan Peckolick came from in The Bakery, the single painting in this show that hews to his four-decade romance with the plastic qualities of words and letters. Where he’s going is full of questions, and even more interesting.