Friday, September 14, 2012

Abstract Allure

Abstract Allure

By Tom Wachunas


    “Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature. I prefer to see with closed eyes.” –Josef Albers-

    “Do not copy nature too much. Art is an abstraction.” –Paul Gauguin-

    EXHIBITION: Abstract Allure: Paintings by David Kuntzman and Patricia Zinsmeister Parker, at Gallery 6000, located in the Dining Room of University Center, Kent State University at Stark, 6000 Frank Avenue NW, North Canton, THROUGH NOVEMBER 2, 2012. OPENING RECEPTION on WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 19, 5:30 to 7:30 P.M. Please RSVP to Becky DeHart at (330) 244-3518 or

    My curatorial intent for this show was to present a ‘conversation’ in two dialects of the same language – nonobjective abstraction. Here, the refined geometric precision of David Kuntzman might seem to be greatly at odds with the less delicate physicality of Patricia Zinsmeister Parker. But in seeing these two painters hang out together, as it were, the ensuing exchange isn’t so much adversarial as it is surprisingly sensible, balanced and eloquent. Consider it a civilized but very energetic exercise in point/counterpoint.

    The left and right ends of the two long walls in the room are anchored by Kuntzman’s large acrylic paintings, like starting and ending a sentence with an exclamation point. His canvases are dense,  intricate worlds comprised of grid patterns that intersect at contrasting angles. Executed with impressive exactitude and vibrant color, they pulse in an uncanny, optically playful or ambiguous way, producing mesmerizing shifts in light and spatial depth. Kuntzman’s clear passion for highly organized architectonic structures is evidenced by his titles, all names of historically important mathematicians: Euclid, Archimedes, Diophantus, and Descartes.

     You could conceivably regard Parker’s smaller works mounted between Kuntzman’s as responses articulating other cognitive options, as if to say, “Yes, I agree, but let’s not forget about…” Her distinctly visceral and intuitive mixed media paintings here are selections from her recent Painting in the Dark suite (for a review of that series, click on this link: ). Though certainly not as uniformly bright and utopian in character as Kuntzman’s visions, Parker’s explorations of organic shapes and simple, totemic structures are nonetheless contemplative, exuding an earthy energy at once child-like and primordial. Her shapes, often rendered in or accented by bold, electric hues, seemingly explode from subtly varied fields of more brooding colors.

    Interestingly enough, this show brings to mind Rafael’s portrayal of Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle in his monumental School of Athens fresco (1509-1511). Plato points upward, to ideals, to the notion of pure ideas over earthly reason. Aristotle points to the ground, to the ‘real’. Both stand side-by-side, framed by a solid arch, in the center of all the conversing and teaching transpiring around them.

    Kuntzman as Plato to Parker’s Aristotle? To a degree, perhaps. Still, this show reminds me that nonobjective painting is, at its core, a compelling witness to our desire to see and feel essences, and a challenging dialogue between perfected ideation and physical form.

    Photos: Top -  My Crayolas by Patricia Zinsmeister Parker / Descartes, by David Kuntzman

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