Founded in 1979, Modernism has since presented more than 300 exhibitions, both historical and contemporary, in media ranging from painting to photography, sculpture to performance, by an international roster of artists. Throughout its 31 years, owner Martin Muller has striven to keep the gallery’s challenging, museum quality program at the forefront of the art world.
Charles Arnoldi; New Paintings
Charles ARNOLDI has been described as an artist who “draws in space” to create his unique assemblage works of art. Throughout his long career he has been fascinated with shape and pattern as they apply to advanced formal concerns, from his 1970s paintings made entirely of natural forms, to his current Case Study body of work.
With their layered interaction of planes and lines, it isn’t difficult to make a link between these works and architecture. But the titling of the series after the Post World War II program of Case Study homes sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine is more a case of synchronicity than of conscious planning. And yet, coincidence or not, a deeper study of these pieces can lead to some very interesting comparisons. The lines of the Case Study houses are clean and the structures are full of intersecting geometric planes: walkways, connecting patios, cantilevered structures, level roofs, deep flat overhangs. Arnoldi’s paintings not only capture the structural dynamics of this architecture, but their palette is suggestive of their materials: glass, steel, stucco.
Though these paintings, with their constraint and geometry, appear clean and deceptively simple, there is a complication that arises as the viewer sinks deeper into the overlapping layers of lines and planes, studies the way they fracture at the canvas edges. The paintings in this show, with masterful architectural technique, balance tight precision with defiant complexity.
Catherine Courtenaye; Recent Paintings
Courtenaye’s abstract paintings are grounded in the vernacular penmanship of 19th century America. Her interest in mark making from this period stems from her observation that a single stroke in a historical manuscript can conjure an era so keenly, in this case, the conflicted Victorian longing for convention, alongside a passion for flourished excess. The artist senses that “drawn” letters and numbers can be storytellers without being literal.
While Courtenaye uses printmaking techniques as a method of precisely incorporating her source materials into her paintings, she consciously deconstructs the images through a process of blending, blotting, and dissolving, thus relinquishing the ideals of graphic perfection, while her many-layered compositions create a metaphors for the passage of time.
In her latest series, featured in this exhibition, Courtenaye further explores the parallels between drawing/painting and handwriting/mark-making by magnifying intimate hand-drawn marks into explosive gestures. Inscriptions and text fragments transferred onto atmospheric color-field spaces play multiple roles: hinting at language, creating shapes and textures, and serving to convey spatial depth.