Saul Acevedo Gomez’s Forethought: Last Paintings of Nature

by Anne Leith

Saul Avecido Gomez, Installation View
Installation View

Forethought: Last Paintings of Nature, is the title of Saul Acevedo Gomez’s recent installation at Swivel Saugerties. The title references Magritte’s painting ‘Forethought’, depicting a tree branching out with a curious group of diverse flower varieties, and like Magritte, Gomez’s work is a layered puzzle of ideas and images, including what Magritte called ‘language games’. Gomez’s subject matter is nature, but not depicted in a naturalistic way – he creates drawings of rooms with artwork and text, such as canvases leaning face towards the walls, childlike depictions of trees and flowers on strips of paper, personal notes, references to other artists and writers, and cryptic commentary. These drawings reflect on how we are failing in our attempts to keep the planet healthy – and to the anxiety that provokes – perhaps due to a lack of forethought?

Forethought: Last Paintings of Nature was situated in a small bank vault room, ‘The Safe’. The installation included tiled floors that match those in the drawings, which enhanced the effect of entering into a claustrophobic diorama of ideas. The enclosed space of The Safe, with its echo chamber of sound was the perfect setting for creating a deliberate sense of unease, with the implication that ‘nature’ is now a precious commodity that is locked away in a man-made vault for safe keeping.

Saul Avecido Gomez, Don't Worry We Got Art
Don’t Worry We Got Art, 2022, colored pencil on paper, 26″ x !9″

Each drawing is an exploration of ideas, deliberately hidden and ambiguous, with canvases leaning against the walls, the front side unseen. The interiors walls of these ‘rooms’ are layered with repeated childlike drawings of trees and flowers and hand-drawn wood grain, creating an attractive decorative space then subverted by scrawled dystopic messages. Text and titles such as Don’t Worry We Got Art, How To Be At Peace With Nature, and Sit and Meditate The Fire Is Coming pointedly undermines any sense of comfort or simple pleasure in the images. One example is Find Me If You Are Feeling Anxious, which includes a drawn computer link to search for How To Enjoy this Moment and the back of a canvas roughly drawn with the text I Hope You Start Panicking Today.

Saul Avecido Gomez, It's Time to Let Go
It’s Time to Let Go, 2022, colored pencil on paper, 26″ x 19″

Gomez creates a matrix of illusion in these poetic works, connecting art, nature, and the internet – complex yet refreshingly clear with well-thought-out ideas. His drawn link motif to internet searches such as How Can I Experience Nature emphasizes the non-experiential way we interact today with the nature around us – as do the canvases leaning against the wall – another level of separation from truly seeing what is going on.

This intriguing show is layered with meaning, and handsomely offers up a troubling look at one artist’s view of the state of man/nature/art and the ideas surrounding their interface today.

Saul Acevedo Gomez: Forethought: Last Paintings of Nature, Swivel Saugerties, Safe Room Project, 258 Main Street, Saugerties, NY 12477 November 12 – December 11, 2022

Auto Interview with John Mendelsohn: The Dark Color Wheel Paintings

On the occasion of his exhibition, Dark Color Wheel Paintings at the David Richard Gallery in New York, John Mendelsohn asks and answers his own questions about his work. The twelve paintings in the series were made in 2022.

Why an interview in this form?
Autofiction, Autoeroticism, Auto Interview!

How did you do these paintings?
To misquote the sportswriter Red Smith, “There’s nothing to it. All I do is starting working and open a vein.”

I mean your technique – do you use mechanical devices for making the circles and projecting rays?
No mechanical devices, no taping, everything by hand. Just the radical act of painting on canvas.

Why the title Dark Color Wheel paintings?
They follow my Color Wheel series that were exhibited at the David Richard Gallery in 2021. Like the earlier series, they have discs with color projecting from their centers. The form suggests a color wheel, a device that shows color relationships.

Dark Color Wheel 5, 2022, 40 x 27 in, acrylic on canvas
Dark Color Wheel 5, 2022, 40″ x 27″, acrylic on canvas

In contrast to the earlier series, the new paintings have a wider range of colors, deeper tonalities, and lower saturation hues that play off against exuberant, purer hues. Sequences of primary colors contrast with unexpected juxtapositions, that devolve into tinted grays and blacks. For me, color in these paintings is lyrical, astringent, and ultimately mysterious.

What was the origin of these paintings?
Success has many mothers. To quote myself, speaking about the impetus for these paintings, “The first was a dream I has as a child, a wonderful dream, in which I entered a golden chamber with turning golden wheels, like a clockwork’s interior. Second, there was a visit to the hospital to visit a friend who was at the end of his life. He said to us that he saw spinning discs, but that only he could see them, not us. Third, while conducting an art workshop at a senior center, I was teaching a participant how to paint flowers with dark centers.”

Dark Color Wheel 2, 2022, 40" x 27", acrylic on canvas
Dark Color Wheel 2, 2022, 40″ x 27″, acrylic on canvas

How about your feelings at the start of this series of paintings?
A poetic motive for the paintings was the phrase “a song of flowering and fading”, conjured up by the paintings’ radiating forms, that suggested a way to consider the splendor and shadow pervading everything.

Can you say something about how these paintings developed within the series?
The paintings began with richly colored works that are quite dark in tonality. The chromatics start to change, with some really surprising and at times disturbing sequences of hues. There are then a number of softly atmospheric paintings. They give way to the final group of works, with strong contrasts of tinted blacks and a cold, blazing light.

These paintings have a particular mood. Do you agree?
I would say a spectrum of moods. The persistence of light against encroaching darkness constitutes one of the central motifs in these works. It helps to evoke these paintings’ moods: an unstable mixture of melancholy and brightness – a sense of inevitable waning consorting with beauty that is a fugitive, saving grace.

The discs and rays suggest many associations beyond color wheels: flower forms, the movement of time, the wheel of life, the piercing appearance of the miraculous in the everyday.

Dark Color Wheel 10, 2022, 40" x27", acrylic on canvas
Dark Color Wheel 10, 2022, 40″ x27″, acrylic on canvas

What about the style of these paintings – how would you describe it.
I wouldn’t. I would say that in the context of these abstract works, illusionistic possibilities had arisen, unbidden. These include a painterly, representational quality, a sense of space, and the impression of emanating and reflective light. As is my practice, I allow rather than censor.

Do you recognize precedents for this work?
Of course. I’ll let the art historians have a crack at this, but … “No Caravaggio, no Delaunays, no Stella – no Dark Color Wheel paintings.”

I notice that from series to series your paintings really change – why?
At one point in the past, I would say that I was restless. At another point, I would say, there is no need to choose one approach. Now I am inclined to say that I’m guided to the next thing, which can be more closely or more distantly related. After doing this for quite a while now, some patterns of thought emerge, but so do more mysteries.

Dark Color Wheel 11, 2022, 40" x 27", acrylic on canvas
Dark Color Wheel 11, 2022, 40″ x 27″, acrylic on canvas

What do you think that these paintings can give a viewer?
Their je ne sais quoi – literally, “I do not know what”, says it all. That is, paintings can have an ineffable quality; it enables distinctive experiences – entrancing, unsettling, moving.

What do you think about what people have written about your work?
Let them knock themselves out. Among the comments: formalist, whimsical, strategic, romantic, failed minimalist — the last I especially appreciated. Since I occasionally write about art, I know that it is fairly impossible.

Dark Color Wheel 12, 2022, 40" x 27", acrylic on canvas
Dark Color Wheel 12, 2022, 40″ x 27″, acrylic on canvas

(So) Happy Together

by D. Dominick Lombardi

“Ever since the Big Bang, it’s ALL collage!”
Todd Bartell

Finding common ground in Contemporary Art today is not necessarily about aesthetic or messaging commonality. The age of Isms, or schools of art are rare, largely due to the fact that labels are limiting and many artists are experimental or in new media. One of the things I have noticed over the years is how much new art looks multidimensional. How it is common to see dueling perspectives and timelines, think Neo Rauch; or accumulations as art or installation with works by Mike Kelly, Faith Ringgold or Nick Cave.

The title of this exhibition, which refers to the 1967 song by The Turtles, was one of the first things I thought of when thinking about the art in this exhibition. That feeling that an artist reaches, at some point in the making of an art work, when the process and purpose of a work comes together and drives the artist to dig deep. For this exhibition, I have selected six artists who reveal both new and traditional ways of expressing great depth of vision while creating compelling, topical, beautiful and at times humorous works.

Joel Carreiro, Untitled b27fz (detail) (2022), 18 x 24 inches
Joel Carreiro, Untitled b27fz (detail) (2022), 18 x 24 inches

Joel Carreiro, who uses either classic collage methods or multiple image transfer, commingles various art ages and types with stunning results. With his transfers, Carreiro weaves wondrous visual transitions that ebb and flow, forming waves of optical transitions. Patterns develop, rhythm is created, and an overall composition becomes focused on referential glimpses and color connections. In his collage series, Carreiro combines a portrait painted by Picasso with an iconic offering from another notable Modern artist suggesting a humorous take on greatness, while the overall effect creates a compelling aesthetic conversation.

Yeon Jin Kim, Plastic Jogakbo #4 (detail) (2019), hand-sewn plastic bags, 56 x 40 inches
Yeon Jin Kim, Plastic Jogakbo #4 (detail) (2019), hand-sewn plastic bags, 56 x 40 inches

Another collector of elements is Yeon Jin Kim, as she updates the traditional Korean art process jogakbos, which is the creation of wrapping cloths from pieces of various fabrics, by using a variety of modern day plastics in place of fabric. In doing so, Kim switches indications of a once male dominated society that insisted on women being frugal, to focus on our big business dominated world of profit and ubiquitous waste. This contrast is both stunning and beautiful, as it sheds light on the fact that no matter how much things change, they in some way stay the same.

Don Doe, Dorothy Twister in Rimini (2021), oil on linen, 38 x 24 inches
Don Doe, Dorothy Twister in Rimini (2021), oil on linen, 38 x 24 inches

Don Doe falls into the multidimensional zone, where collages largely from fashion magazines and ‘mens’ periodicals result in oddly sexual, powerful, simultaneous juxtapositions of euphoria and despair. Having little concern for lining things up anatomically, Doe suggests a nod to the divergent imagery found in film montage, while the clarity in the contrasting bodily forms makes them appear more psychedelic or dreamy. Given all this, Doe manages to create a narrative that represents much of what both excites and represses.

Cecilia Whittaker-Doe, When Summer Went, ink, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe, When Summer Went, ink, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 inches

Cecilia Whittaker-Doe brings us something of a kaleidoscopic view of a landscape. By combining multiple perspectives and stylistic approaches on one common surface, Whittaker-Doe leads us down a trail of wisdom and wonder. What really draws the attention of the viewer is her unique interpretation of ‘natural’ color, and how various elements seem to trade hues with adjacent forms. It’s all a puzzle waiting to be solved, or not, as the journey is the message.

Matthew Garrison, Invincible (2009), plastic, newspaper, wood, light bulb, 8 ½ x 11 x 3 inches
Matthew Garrison, Invincible (2009), plastic, newspaper, wood, light bulb, 8 ½ x 11 x 3 inches

Matthew Garrison is known for his experimental approach to media. Using video, photography, paint, found materials, Garrison brings to mind the art movement Arte Povera, with influences more coming from the home computer age than the ‘poor object’ or his predecessors. By employing references to the banal or the everyday, Garrison reintroduces popular culture as near venerable, while his sense of humor tends to guide us into the deeper meaning of his work and the odd possibilities that lie ahead.

Margaret Roleke, Pink (detail) (2022), wire, spent shotgun shells, brass, 15 x 13 x 14 inches
Margaret Roleke, Pink (detail) (2022), wire, spent shotgun shells, brass, 15 x 13 x 14 inches

Margaret Roleke gathers contentious objects to make potent political statements in her desire to prompt positive change. Women’s rights, gun reform, cultural and racial oppression all seem to have some overlap in her prolific, spent cartridge series of sculptures and wall hangings. Which, when displayed in a gallery or museum setting become optical plays on gesture and form. In the end, we are confronted with sheer numbers, of scary symbols all too abundant that have become a sad defining reality.

(So) Happy Together opens January 21st at Artego, 32-88 48th St, Queens, NY 11103. The exhibition closes February 25th. For more information, go to:

Top 10 at the 2022 Venice Biennale

by Graciela Cassel

Giardini della Biennale and the Arsenale: Cecilia Alemani curated The Milk of Dreams: The connection Between Bodies and Earth

Sonya Boyce, (Feeling Her Way), British Pavilion
Sonya Boyce, (Feeling Her Way), British Pavilion

Sonia Boyce: Drenches viewers in a rhapsodic kaleidoscope of voice, color and geometry.

Francis Alÿs, ‘Nature of the Game’, Belgium Pavilion
Francis Alÿs,  ‘Nature of the Game’, Belgium Pavilion.
Francis Alÿs, ‘Nature of the Game’, Belgium Pavilion

Francis Alÿs: Gigantic screen projections capture children frolicking in public spaces. Snail races and jump rope games unequivocally switch our minds to a pure state in which laughter and time are without limits.

Uffe Isolotto,’We Walked the Earth’, at the Denmark Pavilion
Uffe Isolotto,’We Walked the Earth’, at the Denmark Pavilion

Uffe Isolotto: A Centaurus near death, an unbearable family story.

Simone Leigh, ‘Sovereignty’, USA Pavilion
Simone Leigh, ‘Sovereignty’, USA Pavilion

Simone Leigh: Leigh allures us to Mother Earth.

Jade Fadojutimi, At that Day She Remembered to Purr, at the Arsenale
Jade Fadojutimi, At that Day She Remembered to Purr, at the Arsenale

Jade Fadojutimi: Harmony and conflict in a fantastical landscape.

Barbara Kruger, ‘Please care, Please Mourn’ at the Arsenal
Barbara Kruger, ‘Please care, Please Mourn’ at the Arsenal

Barbara Kruger: Sound and images: A real blaze for human kindness.

Nan Goldin, Sirens, 2019-2020 at the Padiglioni Centrale
Nan Goldin, Sirens, 2019-2020 at the Padiglioni Centrale

Nan Goldin: Goldin composed this film with found scenes of exhilaration, sexuality, bliss and ravishment.

Monira Al Qadiri, Orbital 2022, at the Arsenale
Monira Al Qadiri, Orbital 2022, at the Arsenale

Monira Al Qadiri: Spinning jewel cities in a Persian Gulf-landscape, beaming mythical stories.

Outside the Biennale: Anish Kapoor and Anselm Kiefer

Anish Kapoor, Pregnant White Within Me, 2022, at the Gallerie dell’Academia

Anish Kapoor: A synergy of science, architecture and humanity.

Anselm Kiefer at the Pallazo Ducale, ‘These writings when burned, will finally cast a light’, 2020-2021

Anselm Kiefer: Daunting memories, Kiefer in dialogue with master painters.

The Loggia Paintings: Early and Recent Work by Robert C. Morgan

by Mary Hrbecek

Robert C. Morgan, Loggia XII, 2019, acrylic/metallic paint on canvas 22 x 22 inches
Robert C. Morgan, Loggia XII, 2019, acrylic/metallic paint on canvas 22 x 22 inches

The Scully Tomasko Foundation presents “Early and Recent Work,” an exhibition of twenty-one acrylic and metallic paintings on canvas and an installation of thirty-three ink on paper drawings by curator, art historian, teacher and artist Robert C. Morgan. The paintings impress the viewer in a timeless cohesive way as though they were organized as a site-specific project that is designed to catch the cool ambient aura that pervades the space filling it with diffuse white light, reminiscent of a secluded sanctuary. The salient tones of warm earth brown and dark blue-brown in many of the works act as triggers to subconsciously generate remembrances of the somber ambience of the early Sienese Italian Renaissance. As a group, the paintings create a hushed atmosphere that invites contemplation and reverie, triggered by the clear minimal content and the conceptual reductive intentions they embody. The metallic paint interacts with the earth tones to mitigate their absorption of light by reflecting it; the effect is both calming and stimulating. Perhaps because the works radiate a spirit of peace, they evoke a sense of joy that seems infused with personal meaning.

There is a playfulness in effect despite the obviously serious intensions conveyed by the paintings that provides a sense of ambiguity, despite the clearly carved nature of the highly specific honed smooth shapes.

There are architectural underpinnings in many of the works in the Loggia series, while other pieces suggest a debt to natural configurations. They evince the mental action of an architect whose job requires that he get the spaces to fit perfectly within the whole structure at hand; the thirteen paintings in the “Loggia” series share this essential quality. The magnitude of each shape in relation to the interrelated elements forms a code within the confines of the four edges of each work. The “Elements, Parts I and II” recall game-boards that create enigmatic hidden meanings which relate to secret undefined puzzles. They suggest chess boards that display their subjects with uncanny discretion and respect.

Light and darkness play a major role in the unfolding dramas, as the viewer’s visual perception is sharpened by the necessity to gaze deeply at closely mixed tones, to discern the end and beginning of many of the forms. With continuous viewing, the shapes may appear to vibrate, to move, to resist efforts to pin down their perimeters. Although the works may seem simple, their reduced number of elements compels the viewer to detect changes wrought from barely discernable alterations in movement and placement of shapes.

Robert C. Morgan, B.B.O. in Rio #3 (Katana), 2013, acrylic, metallic paints on canvas, 30 x 40 inches
Robert C. Morgan, B.B.O. in Rio #3 (Katana), 2013, acrylic, metallic paints on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Clearly the paintings fall into the rubric of the honed geometric forms and primary structures characterized by alterations that identify them within the post-painterly abstract genre. The play of movement and spatial divisions challenge the eye to perceive the minuscule changes within the context of this visual dance.

The pieces radiate thoughtfulness; equally, they are well defined, creating pictorial space at times by overlapping flattened forms, or by the juxtaposition of warm and cool hues to generate depth. Through his use of metallic paint and earth tones, the artist intends to capture the moment when light is reflected and absorbed, embodying the reuniting of opposites set forth in the Tao Teh Ching, 500 B.C. Morgan’s use of line animates the works, drawing the eye in unexpected directions through and around forms to differentiate and delineate them. The earth-tones in many of the “Loggia” paintings recall raw nature as a backdrop that surrounds sophisticated dark shapes. The earth red and metallic gold break with traditional notions of minimal essence to create an offshoot rich in suggestiveness.

Robert C. Morgan, Loggia XI, 2019, acrylic/metallic paint on canvas 22 x 22 inches
Robert C. Morgan, Loggia XI, 2019, acrylic/metallic paint on canvas 22 x 22 inches

“Lissajous 3” and “Lissajous 2” disclose quite diverse concerns when compared with the “Loggia” paintings. Both pieces display adorned gold and metallic circles that could represent planets or even machine parts separated from their mechanisms. In the rectangular and square formats of the “Optical Flip” (diptych), 2010, the artist carves the terrain of each segment into three similarly sized portions. Tension develops as the eye travels horizontally across the format, to be pulled back to center by the elongated pale gray rectangles. The subtle play of vertical thin and thicker bars in the middle draws the eye and activates the mind’s curiosity. “Pyramid Shift” creates an area within a black plane that holds the gray pyramid at a distance from a thin rod that carves the warm rectangle. This structure establishes tangible space that invites the viewer’s speculation. The “Living Smoke and Clear Water” installation of Chinese ink on Conte paper drawings flows organically from one to the next, giving the impression of small Haiku poems quickly noted, in a reverie engendered by the attributes of the materials and the vision of nature.

From the standpoint of an instinctual, intuitive observer who derives essence and intentions experientially, this exhibition discloses a tremendous reverence for each separate form and each relationship in which the shapes participate. Care and investment define each piece. If art can embody love, I believe there is evidence of such feeling in these paintings.