M in the art world

Sara Klar, Noah Landfield:

Abstract Works

Sideshow Gallery, New York

May 15, 2010

By Mary Hrbacek

Abstract painting, in all of its kaleidoscopic guises, continues to proliferate as artists mine past genres while they forge new directions with or without the added complexities that machine mediation offers. In this two person show, Sara Klar and Noah Landfield work in abstract painting to realize personal visions with contrasting strategies.

Sara Klar’s powerful haptic paintings create impact through heavy textural relief supplied by cracks, fissures, torn peeling paper, and built-up matter embedded in the painted surfaces. She seems to see her art in metaphoric terms; each piece is painted, resolved and reworked repeatedly, to create a sense of events unfolding in time as they unfold in the life of an individual. She also references her paintings to trees that contain rings of material that signify each stage of their growth.

In some works, the random relief on the paint surface makes recognizable figural elements, such as teeth, lips, legs and feet, that emerge unintentionally, producing a break in the forceful interplay among red, purple, black and green hues. Her vernacular is both abstract and expressive; she eschews illusionistic space in favor of the sculptural relief that lends a real space to her art. This draws the viewer in for a look at an undefined topography of dripping, mingled expanses eliciting the appearance of candle wax melting in folds that droop at the bottom of the canvas. There is a sense of torment and Herculean struggle here that mirrors life’s wrenching dramas, played out in the artist’s efforts to contend with challenges in her own life. Klar’s intuitive painting process is completely open-ended. Freedom from expectation, the element of surprise, and lack of preconceived structure make this work experimental and improvisational. The cool halogen light she paints by informs her art with an unconscious industrial subtext.

Issues of personal identity arise from Klar’s recurrent use of peeling, torn paper. This scraping and tearing gives rise to musings on the question many struggle with, namely, “Who am I?” Her paintings are personal and metaphysical expressions of her attempt to find the answer. Life moves on, as do we as individuals, so it is impossible to ultimately fix that personal definition of “Who I am.” This work offers a hint of the sense of suffering and also the optimism that the artist experiences through physical labor and its attendant emotional catharsis.