Richard Kalina: New Paintings and Watercolors - Lennon, Weinberg Gallery

Port of Call


Richard Kalina New Paintings and Watercolors

Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., NYC

Through November 25th

I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Kalina at a WAX (Writers and Artists Exchange) Conference in San Antonio a while back. I knew his work from previous shows at Lennon/Weinberg, but was happy to hear his thoughts on contemporary art in Texas as he spoke to a gathered throng. He has a penetrating way about him. He gets inside and outside issues or concepts simultaneously, which makes sense, since that is the way his art appears to be designed. The fields he sometimes creates in his art move in and out, forward and back, like oscillating winds between city skyscrapers -- an effect achieved through vibrating color and suggestive line.

Take, for instance, the work Jupiter Plains. After a moment or two of viewing, you begin to see something like colorful banners as they might be reflected off a glass skyscraper. This effect, which is quite slow but sure, forms a multitude of planes that create this sort of odd, wavy depth that bounds up and back like a slow motion pin ball. And yet, the whole composition is calming, ultimately. A soothing array of geometry that comforts and inspires. A similar work, Albert's Landing, does something quite different with its geometry. You get a sense of the hand made here -- a more organic field of marks that are a bit folksy -- like a quilt that awaits its turn to be filled with memories and moments. Yet, this work is quite academic, and highly developed in color theory. And I don't mean to imply that it is staid and familiar -- no -- quite the contrary. It is more like jazzy hieroglyphics, as if the artist is trying to create a nonlinear language governed by multi-colored squares that are punctuated with white lines and brown squares.

A work on paper, Straights of Magellan, seems to be about sound. Here, you see numerous crosshatched circles floating in a field sectioned into soothing stripes of lightly modulated color. I could not help but think of classical music -- something expressing the focused clarity of a Vivaldi, let's say -- as if the artist were interpreting the notes and tempo of a specific passage.

Port of Call (image above) is another great work. It mixes many of the elements discussed here, such as multi planer spatial development and a certain rhythm or tempo. But in this instance, everything flattens out considerably which results in an even more mesmerizing field. Kalina's mastery of color continues here as well, as he dazzles us with fresh combinations, bold patterns and unifying geometry. More playful is the work A Garden in Trastevere, which looks something like a board game with its interwoven lines that abruptly begin and end.

It is important to note too, the process Kalina employs to create his canvases. They are, in fact collaged, not painted, with colored and torn paper. The papers natural composition, and I believe the artist said he uses rice paper, automatically gives the color modulation, adding detail and even more dimension to these stellar works. I liken these works to Contemporary Op Art, in a way, but they are much more.