Taken by Trees
Defend Brooklyn, Chelsea Girls! The triumvirate behind Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery recently uprooted from Union Ave in Williamsburg and will soon transplant to a new space downtown. For now, Klaus Gallery has set up a temporary outpost on West 21st, formerly occupied by Andrew Kreps Gallery. The high ceilings and expansive walls, dramatically raw, might form a launch pad for the resilient gallery, especially in the prime Chelsea location it deserves. “We’ve never had a wall that big,” said co-owner Sam Wilson, pointing to the epic-scaled diagonal west wall. (And we love what you’ve done with it!)
Glen Baldridge, artist and co-founder of printing powerhouse Forth Estate, exhibits five new works on paper completed through a process that fuses photography, printing, and drawing. First, he covers the paper with a homogenous imprimatura of graphite. Over this graphite sheen, he screenprints arboreal photographic images in clear acrylic polymer, and then erases away the remaining areas to uncover/recover the fields of white, now “standing in for snow, light, and sky in a barren terrain.” Through traditional imagery, Baldridge relegates “gesture” to oblique, auxiliary labor and offers a distinctly contemporary approach to the centuries-old legacy of landscape imagery. Moreover, these unique pieces could, theoretically, be reproduced in near exactitude. (How bout it, Glen?) The “original” image would then be a fertile ancestor to a litter of 20 sibling drawings. A family tree.
Benjamin Butler‘s paintings are as fractal and multi-faceted as the finest gems, yet they don’t feel excessively precious. His palette is liberating and his handling elegantly stress-free. The inclusive range of hues reaches multi-mood and inter-seasonal levels, successfully connecting to – and beyond – the show’s equinoctial title and timing.
(For me, the predicament of this focused show is that Glen Baldridge stages the inhospitable, skeletal tundra of winter; while Ben Butler’s vivacious, delicious course of rich color seems like the antidote to the S.A.D. symptoms – except that the paintings won’t be up when winter sets in.)