Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reviews of Brian Zink: Assembled

The Boston Phoenix:

Composition in 2026 Black and 3015 White, 22.5 x 20

For some time now, East Cambridge artist Brian Zink has been rummaging through the history of '60s minimalism. His last body of work was wall reliefs assembled from Band-Aid-colored plastic handrails or bumpers like the ones you see in hospitals. They're serious, striped constructions, but also faintly humorous — like sculptures Carl Andre might make if he was confined to a nursing home.

Zink's new show, "Assembled" at Howard Yezerski Gallery (460 Harrison Ave, Boston, through February 7), features handsome, hard-edged abstractions assembled from mod, jitterbugging patterns of flat Plexiglass tiles. Some diamond and triangle designs feel like details from argyle sweaters. A white square radiates black and white rays like a Japanese rising-sun flag. One pattern of wide M's and W's made from black and white parallelograms begins to suggest fences receding back into space. But mainly Zink picks designs that emphasize the flatness of the surface.

And, oooh, those surfaces: shiny Plexi tiles — mostly muted blacks, grays, and ivories — catch the light of the room as well as your reflection. The works bring to mind the '50s California hard-edged paintings of Lorser Feitelson or Karl Benjamin, op art, the high gloss of fetish-finish art, and that line from the 1967 film The Graduate about the future being "plastics." They're buoyant, but also hermetic. It's not the sort of abstraction in which you dive into paint that's been whipped up into moody outbursts. It's about cool, sleek design and staying on the synthetic plastic surface. This literal shallowness is both tantalizing and alienating. Like Frank Stella said of his own flat, geometric paintings in 1966: "What you see is what you see."

- Text by Greg Cook, January 10, 2012

The Boston Globe:

Composition in 2026 Black, 3015 White and 2308 Turquoise, 32.5 x 30

Synapses firing

Brian Zink is a minimalist with pizazz. His show, “Assembled,’’ at Howard Yezerski Gallery, is deceptively straightforward and clean: Using Plexiglas, he lays out geometric patterns on panels. They buzz and pop and shift. They’re not paintings, but they explore one of painting’s conceptual edges, between object and picture.

We interact with the object on a physical level: It’s a boxy panel that protrudes a bit from the wall, with a shiny surface. The picture engages the imagination: Is it just a pattern? Does it depict space? “Composition 2662 Red and 2026 Black’’ is a checkerboard made of trapezoids. The diagonals hint that the picture goes beyond the surface; abutting trapezoids resemble the faces of a jutting or receding cube.

Zink makes several works using the same pattern with different colors. A zigzag of turquoise and black rhomboids over white looks as if it’s floating; the same zigzag of white and green over black looks flatter, grounded. There’s a wonderful clarity to these pieces. Looking at them enables us to witness our synapses firing, as we leap conceptually between space and surface.

- Text by Cate McQuaid, January 18, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Brian Zink: Assembled

Brian Zink: Assembled

January 6 - February 7, 2012
Opening Reception: Friday January 6th, 6-8pm

Press Release:

"Every form is a base for colour; every colour is the attribute of a form."
-       -Victor Vasarely

With Assembled, Brian Zink returns to his well-known colored Plexiglas construction practice.  Zink’s new work, however, extends that language into a critical consideration of the symbiotic and uncanny relationship between pure abstraction and pictorial space.

For Zink, the real springs from the sheer presence of the material object – and, as the show’s title and an initial inspection make clear, the works are Assembled from machine-manufactured parts. Each work is constructed of a thick flat plastic slab supporting a careful arrangement of glossy, commercially-colored, chunky Plexiglas diamonds and rhombi.  The compositions appear regular: a simple, direct pattern sustained by a single hue balanced against black, white, and/or gray.   In fact each comprises a symmetrical design that suggests an infinite repetition, the base repeat of an endless pattern.  Like other Zink constructions, we’re rooted by their materiality, simplicity, and patterning to a consideration of the real space we occupy with them.

But this rootedness gradually unfolds into another, uncanny experience of space.  The sharp diagonals and strident horizontals and verticals of Zink’s designs assemble strange, shallow pictorial spaces for us to consider.  Coinciding with each other and the edges of their patterned parameters, Zink’s shapes become floating planes, tilted doorways, bottomless windows, sharply lit blocks – almost, for they inevitably bump into or crash against the geometric purity, materiality, and exterior realness of the object.  

The resulting experience keeps us hopping uncomfortably between the two familiar comfort zones of abstraction – the interior real, or pictorial space, and the exterior real, or object space. Each challenges and undermines the other; a pattern of diagonals slides awkwardly into a dramatically elongated arcade; architectural blocks reform into a non-hierarchical series of trapezoids.  But the works never reduce to an op-art curiosity of abstraction: Zink doesn’t let his shapes and colors become unreal, brute facts, but keeps them peering into our world, our architecture, our space.  As Vasarely suggests, the natural coincidence of color and form lie at the heart of experience itself.  Brian Zink’s new work invites us into this heart, into his immense sensitivity to the life of form.