Deborah Zlotsky | Loopholes
Jan 30 – Mar 21, 2020
Robischon Gallery features four, concurrent solo exhibitions by artists Deborah Zlotsky (NY), Ted Larsen (NM), Jonathan Parker (NM) and Scott Chamberlin (CO). Each of the artists investigate abstraction through their primary means of painting and sculpture in large to notably small scale. The artworks on view reveal an uncommon eye toward composition, color and materiality while revealing a sense of humor and an engagement with, and a pursuit of, the experimental.
Robischon Gallery is pleased to present, “Loopholes,” its third expansive Deborah Zlotsky solo exhibition, featuring her vibrantly painted, rectilinear and curvilinear works. Observing both monumental and architectural elements in her visual vocabulary, artist and critic Viktor Witkowski writes, “Zlotsky pays attention to color, line, and shape, but more importantly to depth. We can clearly identify geometric shapes, but their outlines take surprising turns that suggest receding and advancing forms. Lighter shapes contrast with darker ones in the same color value, providing three-dimensionality which points back to what lies beneath.”
Within Zlotsky’s signature syntax of contours, stripes and planes, surprising trompe l’oeil structures are also discovered – forms which are intended to visually prop up or bind together areas of the paintings. What initially seems graphic and formal gives way to an understanding of a unique vocabulary of an illusory rigor of shapes and perspectival planes combining with the unruliness of paint splatters, stains, and erasures. Zlotsky states, “The activity of processing and attempting to create order is initially an endless series of cycles, as resolving one set of relationships leads to the undoing of another. Eventually, the provisional nature of connecting fragments leads to something equally convergent and non-sequitur. The friction between my intention to build relationships and the coincidences that occur as I make sense of unexpected interactions and proximities mirror the daily processing required to be in the world. In the paintings, the drips, abrasions, and stains reveal the months, and sometimes years, the process takes.”
Zlotsky’s nuanced and oftentimes humorous approach can be explored upon closer viewing of the large-scale paintings, Herrings grow redder and Evidence. Further carrying the notion of adjustment and repair, the sly prop, or thin rod-like support within Herrings grow redder, visually and metaphorically stands as a sort of fastener that joins the bright yellow half-oval shape to the nearby vertical framework which holds the painting’s stacked box-like elements. In Evidence, there are other unexpected surprises, such as a kind of venting tube which expresses itself on either side of the painting. Zlotsky states, “I connect visual fragments, accumulating and connecting parts that don’t necessarily go together. From the logical illogic of my decision-making, a lopsided system eventually develops in each work that refers more broadly to the way systems might evolve through the accumulation of actions and reactions—in the way complexities are built over time through accidents that get baked in.”
While Zlotsky’s titles, such as Herrings grow redder or Evidence, invoke contemporary, even political narratives, the artist, who was born in 1962, acknowledges past American cultural touchstones by references to song titles like a 1974 Joni Mitchell album, “Court and Spark” or The Chiffons’ 1963 music hit “One Fine Day.” More overtly, is Zlotsky’s connection to certain culturally popular color palettes of the time in combination with her own unexpected employment of vivid hues. The identifiable charged blues and myriad greens of fashion or domestic trends from previous decades all play a role in the artist’s pursuit.
Acting as a direct link to the past, a bold work from the artist’s tandem tapestry or “soft painting” series is also included in the exhibition. Zlotsky’s recent and explorative body of work assembles colorful, graphic vintage scarves, as exemplified by Bandwidth which recontextualizes and promotes the popular textile designer of the time, Vera Neumann (1907-1993), with her black and white patterned scarf placed front and center within the assembled delicate fabric composition. The flowing striped silk scarves of Bandwidth echo, in a sense, Zlotsky’s trompe l’oeil elements, but the history of the objects themselves speak to her. She notes that, “the holes, tears, and stains of the tapestries, constructed from scarves from the 1960s and 1970s, hold within them the fact of aging, wear, and the passage of time. Their colors, patterns, and gossamer movement connect to the lush visual world of my earliest awareness. Their graphic groove and elegance reflect contemporaneous notions of abstraction in the art world. They also refer to the complicated ideas about femininity that shaped me, especially contradictory notions of restraint and display, as scarves both conceal the body and announce the wearer’s desire to be seen. Collaging together the scarves has allowed me to make soft paintings that share an aesthetic sensibility with my paintings but with the added resonance of lived lives.”
With her puzzle-like compositions and vibrant, geometric stance, Zlotsky’s exuberant paintings intrigue the mind and captivate the eye. Author Carmen Machado concludes, “Deborah Zlotsky’s paintings are, at their essence, a convergence: of Renaissance images and pop art, of the past and present, of science fiction and reality, of physicality and illusion.”
A 2019 recipient of a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in the Creative Arts, Deborah Zlotsky received her MFA from the University of Connecticut, and her BA from Yale University. A recipient of the Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, two time New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Artists’ Fellowship in Painting, First Place Award, SACI International Art Competition, Studio Art Center International (SACI), Florence, Italy, and Juror’s Award, Mohawk Hudson Regional, The Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany, NY juried by Stephen Westfall, are among many prestigious recognitions that Zlotsky has received throughout her career. Her work is housed in the permanent public collections of Rutgers University, NJ, Borusan Contemporary Art Collection, Istanbul, Waldorf Astoria, NY, New York Palace Hotel, NY, William Benton Museum of Art, Storrs, CT, Albany Institute of History and Art, RISD Museum, Rhode Island School of Design, Polsinelli Collection, University of Iowa Health Center, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, CT, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA, Sioux City Art Center, Sioux City, IA, Nebraska-Wesleyan University, Lincoln, NE, Southwest Texas State University, and Eastern Oregon State University.