Lynne Golob Gelfman
Perez Art Museum Miami
On view until April 21, 2019
By PETRA MASON, OCT. 2018
Driving to the Perez Art Museum Miami over the Venetian Causeway may resemble a clip from Grand Theft Auto but inside the museum Lynne Golob Gelfman's artwork quietly occupies space on its own terms within the skyscraper skyline.
The Miami based artist is trained in traditional modernist aesthetics which she both honors and subverts. Gelfman has lived and worked at various times in Colombia, a place where she investigated indigenous textile and basket weaving techniques, evidence of which can be seen in her "lines," abstractions where invisible horizontal markings interact with applications of dripping paint that move vertically down the surface, creating a patterning that recall the irregular grids of textiles. So too does the "thru" series reference weaving patterns, through its use of repeating triangle and square forms. The artist began this series in the 1970s but has returned to it in recent years, producing works at varying scales and formats. These paintings involve the application of paint on one side of the canvas and allowing it to seep through that canvas in irregular ways, with the final painting displaying this other side. The resulting effect, which mixes the color of the raw canvas with pale washes of paint, evokes the bleaching effects of tropical sunlight and is a process the artist pioneered.
As the title makes clear, the 25-piece exhibition examines the paintings of Gelfman in relation to the Modernist tradition of the grid. Through repetition of both linear and geometric forms, the artist’s diverse series reveal her interest in late-modernist explorations of this rectilinear form, while concurrently evidencing her resistance to its formal rules and cool abstraction, through her references to non-western aesthetics and both the urban and natural environment of Miami.
While presenting examples from as early as 1968 when the artist was working in New York, to her first paintings produced after her move to Miami in 1972, the exhibition focuses primarily on paintings produced during the last two decades. Including works from Perez Art Museum Miami's own collection, examples from five distinct series are on view. The "oil and sand" series references the curling, linear metal work used in many working-class neighborhoods in Miami to secure windows and gates. Her "between" paintings transform the grid of chain-link fences, often used to aggressively divide urban spaces, into shimmering, transparent patterns that recall the movement of sunlight on the sea. Gelfman’s early New York works display these influences in her use of serial, flat forms organized in grid patterns. These interests persisted with her move to Miami and within her works produced during the last two decades. Yet her grids have continually been contaminated, breaking with these formal rules of Modernism, through the artist’s everyday contexts, to the diverse cultures and environments, to the shifting light, patterns and rhythms, to which they habitually respond. WM