Thursday, August 20, 2015

THREE PAINTERS Frank Badur + Martha Groome + Mark Williams

 Frank Badur - #14-03, 2014 repost by Todd Camplin

What is so interesting about minimalist art? Barry Whistler Gallery seems to have proposed this question by presenting three prime examples of artists that have come out of the Minimalist era and continue to work and innovate in this calmingly sublime style. Minimalism was an art movement in the 1960’s and 70’s and Frank Baudur, Martha Groome, and Mark Williams entered near the zenith of the movement. In 2015, these three artists show that the art movement is alive and evolving. Their voices are distinct and clearly different in a genre that would seem to have little wiggle room for much variation.

Left with little information, artists from this era and later generations of minimal artists have explored minute differences in shape, form, and line. Much of this kind of work is a mediation on the ideas of simple artistic and natural structures. Frank Baudur’s lines and grids with limited color palette would lead you to believe his work was quiet and unassuming. In fact, I took quick looks at the work and then moved on, but his colors of yellow or orange create a bit of nervous tension that made me want to look again. So, I came back and was rewarded with his choices of subtle contrasting colors. Martha Groome had her own sight tensions playing out in her work. Like the painting, Let it Lie, where a small rectangle in the corner of a black field seemed to unbalance the whole picture. Her colors were cool and calm.

However, Mark Williams stole the show for me. When I visit Barry Whistler Gallery, I expect to see a work by Williams now and then, but this was a real treat for me to see so many pieces. What I found most interesting is that his approach to the work shifted a great deal from his 2010-11 work and his 2012-15 works. In the early work, Williams was like Groome’s and Baudur’s approach of exploiting subtle tensions. Lines seemed to stop prematurely, and fields of color sometimes were slightly broken. I was reminded of when I would miss my registration mark while screen printing a shirt. You would get a thin line separation of one color with another color. The tension of imperfection was Williams’ game back in 2010-11, but now he has made a break. You might say he has brought in his work more expressive marks. It looks as if he is scraping his paintings with a squeegee. Instead of subtle celebrations of the accident, Williams has fully embraced chance. I don’t even think he is doing Minimalist work, but rather minimalism with a small “m” instead. I am reminded more of artists like John Pomara and Gerhard Richter rather than Robert Mangold or Ellsworth Kelly.

Barry Whistler Gallery will be featuring the works by Frank Baudur, Martha Groome, and Mark Williams through June 20th. These works take time to sink in, so at least spend a minute with a few of these paintings. I hope you will be rewarded for your effort like I was.

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