While the ubiquitousness of established local artists in regional galleries is normally a point of pride for any East End resident, there are times when exhibitions at spaces such as Mark Borghi Fine Arts in Bridgehampton are welcome for the simple reason that they offer something other than a lineup of the usual suspects.
Further, for those prone to bouts of wintertime sloth, exhibits at Mark Borghi tend toward the blue chip end of the aesthetic and material spectrum (with a few emerging artists thrown in for good measure), allowing viewers to come close to a New York museum or gallery experience without actually having to take the time and expense to travel off the East End.
Of particular interest in the current configuration of works at Borghi, a space that doesn’t so much change exhibits as rotate pieces in and out, are three pieces by the French-born American artist Arman, whose approach over the years has evolved from using myriad objects to apply paint to using these objects as central elements in the paintings themselves.
Representing the assertion of humanist ideals against the inroads of dehumanizing technology, the works powerfully illustrate the concept of creation through destruction, an idea born from anarchist impulses, which in Arman’s works always seem to reverberate with both thoughtful and apprehensive overtones.
In “Le Clavier Bien Trompe” (construction, 1998), for example, the monochrome coloration conjures an air of foreboding and decay, illustrating the artist’s stated perception of materialism and technology as elements of a manufactured “pseudo-biological cycle of production, consumption, and destruction.” Seeming to be sinking within the picture itself, the collaged keyboard takes on almost animated qualities, its de-constructed elements offering an elegy of sorts while its asymmetrical placement on the canvas serves to flatten the viewer’s sense of visual perspective.
Norman Bluhm’s large “Untitled” (oil on canvas), on the other hand, makes powerful use of negative space to draw the eye deep within an expressively fragmented pictorial composition, while spontaneous brushwork and calligraphic scribbles create a constant interweaving of foreground and background. Related in tone to the French action painting school known as “Tachisme,” this works reveals in its construction the stylistic influence of artists as disparate as Hans Hartung, Pierre Soulage, and Franz Kline.
Mr. Bluhm’s work provides an entertaining juxtaposition to Robert DeNiro Sr.’s “Still-Life” (oil on paper laid on board, 1962) which, in its use of a more formal compositional structure, more closely adheres to the European modernist principles one might find in works by Bonnard and Mattisse. Nevertheless, in its use of color and balance of forms, and in its reflection of the artist’s representational impulses, one can easily detect the impact and synthesis of the principles of modernist abstraction.
Also featured in the exhibition, alongside these more established artists, are paintings by the Mongolian artist Xuemo, whose works establish an engaging balance between Asian simplicity and European painterly qualities, and Clintel Steed, whose recent pieces recall the German Expressionists in their use of color and space, while his thick, impasto application of paints evokes the portraits and landscapes of the late Peter Dean.
Bearing in mind that even a gallery in New York (or Paris, London, Chicago, or L.A.) would likely have works by East End artists, such is also the case here in the inclusion of sculptural works by Wilfred Zogbaum, John Chamberlain, and Philip Pavia, all of whom have ties to the Hamptons.
Of the three, Mr. Chamberlain’s iconographic crushed-car sculpture would undoubtedly be the most immediately recognizable in its symphonically orchestrated cacophony of colors and shapes. Titled “Flywheelsonata” (paint and chrome steel, 2007), the work exemplifies the artist’s use of sculptural forms to create three-dimensional collages of twisted metal and assertively playful coloration, the amalgamation allowing visual references to artists as disparate as David Smith and Willem de Kooning.
The current exhibition at Mark Borghi Fine Arts in Bridgehampton continues in its present form for the foreseeable future.