“Steven Salzman: Luminous Paintings”; at Bernarducci Gallery, 525 West 25th Street, through October 27, 2018.
Is there any joy in art-Mudville (aka Chelsea) anymore, or is it all ego-heavy political didacticism , endless appropriation, and novel media meant to over- or underwhelm rather than engage viewers at eve-level (literally and figuratively speaking)?
Salzman’s paintings are a reminder that good old (ironically) abstraction still can deliver art magic when done well–i.e., when it manages to funnel the gaze to perceptual foundations, tuning out everything else. Recycling and splicing components of Futurism, Op Art, and Minimalism, Salzman spins his own Neo-Geo with razor-sharp compositional showmanship to render vision as physical experience. Typically comprised of shapes and lines precisely delineated and bounded and then stretched and pulled in varied directions, these compositions can induce squinting, blinking, and even weight-shifting to maintain equilibrium while panning their seamless shifting surfaces. An interest in gradated, shimmering palettes—either a pearly spectrum or riotous, saturated hues—adds to the pleasure of pattern-seeking in the vertiginous rays, horizontalizing strips, and occasional wavy ripples and Barnett Newman-ish zips that Salzman seems to formulate by a combo of intuition and algorithm. His closest art peer is probably Odili Donald Odita, and in that comparison Salzman is suddenly intimate, delivering a more tempered, slightly veiled razzle dazzle. Anyone up for some satisfying art-for-art’s-sake will much appreciate Salzman’s nearly breathing fun-house formalism.